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Firefighters are more likely to get cancer

January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month
Published: Jan. 8, 2021 at 7:59 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Firefighters are exposed to chemicals that can’t be avoided in doing their job and some of those carcinogens are causing them to get cancer.

“What we’re finding through studies with the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health, NIOSH, is that firefighters face a significant greater risk of getting cancer and dying from cancer based on occupational hazard exposures,” said Al Vitolo, legislative director of the Wichita Falls Professional Fire Fighters Association.

Studies from NIOSH identified firefighters have a greater chance of being diagnosed with dying from cancer.

Some of what puts firefighters at risk for developing cancer are soot from firefighting and carcinogens that come in through openings in the gear they wear.

“And then you add the heat, the hard work. Those are things that are opening pores up and letting those chemicals enter our body,” said Vitolo.

The WFPFFA and fire departments look at research and work for changes to protect themselves on the job.

“This research came out about the cancer, as part of this cancer awareness program, has really opened a lot of eyes to why so many of our friends have died at such a young age,” said Eden Buddemeyer, member of the WFPFFA and captain at Wichita Falls Fire Department Station 2.

The association helped get a recent procedure in place for an extractor washing machine for every station in Wichita Falls.

“We actually just got them up and running probably less than a year ago. And it’s been so handy to get so we don’t have to wear that dirty gear at the next fire,” said Buddemeyer.

WFPFFA is also pushing for two sets of gear for every firefighter. The association work with city leaders to let them know of these priorities.

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