Firefighter-occupational cancer is the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths in the fire service. In 2019, more than 75 percent of the names of firefighters added to the IAFF Fallen Firefighter Memorial Wall of Honor in Colorado Springs, Colorado, were of members who died from occupational cancer. According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnoses and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths compared to the general population.
"The cancer rates in the fire service are alarming. Safety risks faced by fireman are bad enough, but then to add cancer risks.
The chemical compound known as aqueous film-forming foams (AFFFs) is gaining widespread attention and alarm and is a source of exposure for firefighters. This substance is used to put out liquid fires. The rising concern is because AFFFs are made with perfluorooctanoic acid (PFOA) and perfluorooctane sulfonate (PFOS), toxic chemicals that cause cancer. PFOAs and PFAs are highly resistant chemicals that are persistent in the environment. Once released into the environment, either in the air, soil, or water, they don't go away by themselves. These chemicals were released into the environment as a result of widespread industrial use, and also as a result of disposal and direct pollution into soils and waterways. Water utilities across the United States are currently testing their water and finding these chemicals necessitating immediate remediation efforts. Communities surrounding airports, military bases and other places of use likely have these chemicals in their air, soil, and water supply.
Cancer resulting from chemical exposure can take years to develop. Thus, the extent of damage is not known but firefighters should get medical check ups for early detection.
If you or someone you know has developed cancer, please contact Sherman Law, P.C. for help.