This year’s annual Firefighter Safety Stand Down week takes place between June 16 to 22. The 2019 theme focuses on reducing exposure to cancer, a serious threat to firefighters who experience much higher cancer rates than the general population. While firefighters have a higher rate of oral, urinary, gastrointestinal, and respiratory cancers than most Americans, the rate soars to twice as high for malignant mesothelioma. This fatal cancer attacks the lining of the stomach, heart, lungs, and additional organs due to asbestos exposure.
A multi-year study conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) documented the higher cancer levels in firefighters, most of which occurred due to occupational exposure. Firefighters are often exposed to asbestos in the course of combatting structure fires. Younger firefighters are at a higher risk of developing prostate and bladder cancers.
Best Practices for Firefighters
Some of the best practices outlined by Firefighter Safety Stand Down week apply to everyone, such as not using tobacco products and receiving an annual physical. Others are more firefighter specific, and include:
- Wearing full protective gear for the entire length of the incident, including the salvaging operations.
- Changing clothes and washing them immediately after exposure to contaminants or combustible materials. If prompt washing is not possible, store clothes in a trash bag until laundering.
- Showering as soon as possible after contaminant exposure.
- Use wipes or soap and water for cleaning and decontaminating apparatus and interior crew areas. Also, use wipes for removing soot and other contaminants on the exposed parts of the body as soon as possible.
- Never wear protective gear, especially pants, in the household or in the firehouse’s sleeping or kitchen areas.
- Report all exposure to chemicals and fire on incident reports.
Every firefighter in the country, whether professional or volunteer, should have the opportunity to review the safety materials and view a Safety Stand Down webinar. Firefighters can also take the Safety Stand Down quiz, which measures their awareness of appropriate cancer reduction safety measures while entering participants in a prize drawing. Firefighter Safety Stand Down week is not only geared toward firefighters, but to emergency responders as well, since they face some of the same risks when aiding fire victims.
Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at DiTomaso Law Help Firefighters Battling Job-Related Cancer
If you are a firefighter diagnosed with a job-related cancer, you need the services of the experienced Cherry Hill Workers’ Compensation lawyers at DiTomaso Law. We can help you receive the compensation you deserve for your injuries. Contact us online or call us at 856-414-0010 for a free consultation. Located in Cherry Hill, New Jersey, we represent clients throughout South Jersey, including Mt. Holly and Camden County.