By Jim McKay, Emergency Management:
The revelations that firefighters face greater risk from developing certain cancers is alarming, and many departments are taking action to try to mitigate those risks. One is the Tucson, Ariz., Fire Department, which is both studying the risks and trying to mitigate them with the help of cloud technology.
Two recent studies of firefighters by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health concluded that firefighters face a 9 percent increase in diagnoses and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths, compared to the general population of the U.S.
Fire departments are taking action by cleaning gear and washing down personnel after engaging fires, but keeping track of such actions and holding personnel accountable can be a challenge. The Tucson Fire Department is meeting that challenge with cloud-based technology created by PowerDMS.
Since 2016, Tucson Fire has been involved in the Fire Fighter Cancer Cohort Study funded by FEMA that tests firefighters to establish long-term efforts to mitigate the cancer risks to firefighters.
“The cancer studies have been a way for us to verify that when we do respond to fires, we are exposed to cancer-causing elements,” said Darin Wallentine, deputy chief of safety and wellness for Tucson Fire. He said the studies, which have involved analyzing urine, blood and buccal cells from incumbent firefighters and new recruits, have confirmed the risks of responding to fires.
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