66% of all firefighters were off-duty from 2002 to 2019
Goodyear, ARIZ. – While coronovirus has been at the forefront of health related news in the last one year, fire departments are facing the crisis of rising cancer rate in the country. Research has found that smoke, ash, and other chemical firefighters are usually very carcinogenic, which can lead to road cancer.
To address this issue, some stations are adopting unique methods to keep their crew safe.
After losing his last year to cancer, Goodyear Fire Department Wanted to do something in Arizona to help prevent future cases. Many of his firefighters have been diagnosed with cancer, including 40-year-old Gilbert Aguirre who is battling leukemia.
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Phuk News, an engineer / paramedic at the Goodyear Fire Department, said, “You don’t consider me a strongman until you get one and I suffer from cancer that means I have cancer.”
according to National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH) Firefighters have a 9% higher risk of developing cancer than the general population. They are also at a 14% greater risk of dying from it. International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) said those cancers eventually led to 66% of career firefighter line-of-duty deaths from 2002 to 2019.
“It’s hiding the dangers that are becoming more apparent now, with mental health and cancer being one of the biggest issues,” said Goodyear Fire Capt. Manny Cordova.
Fire departments like Goodyear are now responding. They are unveiling a new station fully equipped with various equipment aimed at preventing cancer cases.
“The way it was determined, we have a side of the station that we would consider a dirty side, where after a fire we come back … we can start it [decontamination] Process there and then proceed to the cleanest part of the station.
Firefighters spent months researching, attending firefighting conferences and speaking with architects to come up with the final design.
Some of the new technologies include a hose hooked up to the firetrac exhaust, so they are not breathing in smoke. All the doors of the station are on their own with an air pressure system to flush out the toxins. The high-power washing machine removes deep clean potentially carcinogenic materials from the gears and each part of the station is color-coded to show which areas are at high risk. The storage room is labeled green, meaning it is low risk, while the refinement area is marked in red for high risk.
“We wanted to change the way we do things and how we can prevent firefighters, especially at an early age, from getting an occupational cancer,” Aguirre said. “We do not want other families, other firefighters to go through the same thing that we have gone through or that our family has gone through.”
The Fire Department has also taken into consideration lighting and paint colors. Several large, bright windows throughout the facility with light wall colors help with mental health that he said, and a new gym helps with his physical health. The Goodyear Fire Department will open a second such station in two months.
“This is real, it affects us just like other fire departments in the valley and it is important to invest in our members and our city is charging this fee for us,” Cordova said.
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Other organizations are also stepping up to help. Vincier Cancer Center Scottsdale began offering free cancer screenings to firefighters in November 2018. They use state-of-the-art technology to test earlier and more aggressively.
“When I started the program in 2018, it was a pilot project, so I started it for free and I got some grants to do it and then as we started to do more and more, cities realized that Was really cost-effective. Invest in it, “said Dr. Varshale Shukla, Director of Oncology of Cancer Cancer Center.
“Phoenix City covers all of the cancer screenings for firefighters for all Phoenix firefighters. We work with various cities like Superstition and Tempe which are covered through FEMA grants … More and more people realize this Doing what it said is important and necessary, Shukla told Granthshala News, “They are finding ways to fund it.”
The group diagnosed 22 firefighters with 22 cancers in 2019 and 30 last year.
“We are seeing different types of cancer so that breast cancer, prostate cancer and melanoma are so much cancer that we see in regular people, but we are seeing them at a very young age,” Shukla said.
Shukla says it is important that these firefighters be tested early, as most begin their firefighting careers at an early age, meaning they were previously exposed to these carcinogens and are unfortunately developing cancer Huh.
Shukla said, “It is very worrying and I think it is quite a relief to have such a program because at least they know they are being taken care of and watched.”
Along with general X-rays and scans, she is also using brand new technologies. One of them is quantitative transmission (QT) ultrasound, which is changing the way mammograms are performed.
Shukla said, “We are one of three in the country and hence the advantage of this ultrasound is that the breast is imaged using water and transmission ultrasound and therefore it is safe to do so where there is no radiation, It is not painful there is no compression, ”Shukla said.
Early detection of cancer will help prevent firefighter deaths. The Goodyear Fire Department said they hoped their initiative would inspire others across the country.