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06/18/2019

State Fire Commissioner Highlights Firefighters’ Cancer Risk During Safety Stand Down Week

​Harrisburg, PA – State Fire Commissioner Bruce Trego is focusing the attention of the firefighting community on critical safety and health issues facing emergency service personnel as part of this year’s “Safety Stand Down Week.” Trego appeared on FOX43 morning news today to promote this critical aspect of firefighter safety.

Reducing firefighters’ exposure to materials that may cause cancer is everyone’s responsibility. Today’s homes are filled with synthetic materials that can affect firefighters, tradesmen, and property owners longer after the fire has been extinguished. According to the International Association of Fire Fighters, cancer is now the leading cause of death among firefighters.

“Cancer has no limitations, it can affect all of us regardless of our age, gender, race, rank, or whether you’re a professional or volunteer firefighter,” Trego said.  “Firefighters, as well as the general public, have to understand the long-term risks associated with exposure to fires.”

Firefighters have high risks of respiratory, digestive, and urinary cancers compared to the general population. As an example, the risk of developing mesothelioma is roughly twice that of the general population. Cancer has caused 61 percent of career firefighter line of duty deaths since 2002.

Trego shared a few best practices that he frequently discusses with firefighters to limit their exposure to cancer causing materials:

  • Full personal protective equipment must be worn throughout the duration of incidents.
  • Change clothes and wash them after exposure to products of combustion.
  • Shower as soon as possible after being exposed to products of combustion.
  • Personal protective equipment and turn out gear should not leave the apparatus floor, and never enter a firefighter’s household.
  • Get an annual physical, early detection of cancer is the key to survival.
  • Eliminate the use of tobacco products of any variety.

Safety Stand Down Week takes place June 16-22, 2019. The event highlights critical safety, health, and survival issues for the fire and emergency services. Departments and personnel from all disciplines are asked to take the week to focus their attention on safety and health education and training.

For additional information about Safety Stand Down Week, visit www.safetystanddown.org.

MEDIA CONTACT: L. Paul Vezzetti: 717-651-2169; lvezzetti@pa.gov

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