There’s no doubt that firefighting is a dangerous profession – but those dangers go beyond the obvious physical dangers immediately present when fighting fires. In the last decade, new research has emerged about the health risks specific to firefighters. Of the many studies that have been conducted, most have had the same, jarring results about firefighters and their risk of developing cancer. In a study done by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), researchers found that firefighters are 9% more likely to contract cancer (especially cancers of the respiratory, digestive, and urinary systems) and are at a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population. The study also found that firefighters were two times more likely to contract mesothelioma than the general U.S. population, likely due to the increased exposure to asbestos many firefighters experience.
When addressing the health and safety of their teams, fire departments should prioritize sharing cancer prevention practices. Here’s a list of best practices that departments can follow to help educate and reduce firefighters’ cancer risk.
 Jahnke, Sara A, et al. “GUIDE TO CANCER PREVENTION THROUGH PPE.” Globe Holding Company LLC, 1 Feb. 2016.