The first study that revealed a higher incidence of cancer in firefighters was published in 1992. The participants were firefighters from Toronto, Canada. The study was originally undertaken to track cardiovascular disease, its greater impact was associated with the findings concerning firefighters and cancer.
So the genesis of this topic of hazardous firefighter exposure started about 27 years ago. We have learned a lot since then. Burning practically anything is going to create a toxic soup containing a multitude of hazardous chemicals. It has been demonstrated through research that repeated exposure can be carcinogenic over time.
What we have learned over nearly three decades is that the job of firefighting has the potential to expose responders to a great number of dangerous chemicals and carcinogens. This exposure potential has increased significantly over the years as construction and furniture materials have evolved from wood, wool, and cotton to the use of synthetics and plastics. Many of these modern materials are made from a wide array of chemicals and most of them contain petroleum byproducts.
Right now, researchers are focusing on evaluating the health effects among firefighters with both low and high exposure and the relationship to cancer. This involves reviewing employment history of firefighters and the number of fire related runs during their career. Repeated exposure can induce cancers which may not appear for 20 years.
We at StationSMARTS are on the cutting edge of tracking firefighter exposure to carcinogens.
We have always consider the NFIRS report as a method to not only report mandatory after-action data, as required by the federal government, but equally important as a means for the department to capture, report-on, and better manage their operation. With this approach in mind we have built an efficient means to track specific incidents, apparatus, and staff on what your department considers high risk potential exposure runs.
The way we have designed our special studies, we enable your department to track any exposure (not only carcinogens, but pathogens and excessive noise as well) data relevant to your operation. We now offer the capability to track specific incidents, apparatus, and staff on what are considered high risk potential exposure runs.
This run data can quickly and easily be posted to individual personnel files. Years later you can determine the number and nature of exposures a firefighter has encountered during their career.
We are presently testing this data collection method in three Massachusetts fire departments: Concord, Maynard and Weston. Soon this same approach will be deployed in the Narragansett, RI Fire Department as well.