Archive for March 16th, 2018

Cancer in the Fire Service

Excerpts from the

Most firefighters know all too well the price some of their colleagues pay for exposure to poisonous toxins. A growing body of evidence has shown firefighters have an increased risk of cancer and other serious illnesses compared to the general population, partly due to their exposure to hazardous chemicals from the smoke.

A groundbreaking study showing, among other things, that Ottawa (Canada) firefighters had from three to more than five times the amount of toxic chemicals in their urine after a fire compared to before a fire. And the study suggests the chemicals entered their bodies mainly through skin contact. 

The study, said Jules Blais, professor of environmental toxicology at the University of Ottawa, is among the first to look at the absorption of toxics chemicals by firefighters during real emergency situations. Its findings, based on urine samples and skin swabs from firefighters between January 2015 and April 2016, suggest that a major pathway for those toxins is through the skin. The evidence of absorption through the skin, particularly through the neck area, will help with the development of practices and technology to reduce that exposure. 

The Ottawa Fire Services has already made changes based on the findings in the hopes of reducing exposure of firefighters to toxic chemicals absorbed through their skin.  Much of the evolution of fire equipment and procedures has focused on breathing apparatus and clothing to protect firefighters from inhalation and heat while they fight fires. 

The Ottawa Fire Services introduced new decontamination policies, partly in response to the research, in an effort to avoid skin absorption of toxic chemicals. Firefighters are now required to strip off and clean their breathing apparatus, put it in a bag and send it for cleaning before returning to the station. They are also required to do the same with their bunker gear. In the past, firefighters would get into the trucks in dirty bunker gear and clean it at the station. Firefighters are also required to shower and change their clothes as quickly as possible in an attempt to remove all contaminants from their skin.

The research studied samples from 27 firefighters and 17 office workers over 16 months. The polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons that were studied, among other toxins, have been shown to be mutagenic, including mutations linked to cancer.

Researchers had expected to see evidence that the chemicals were being absorbed through the lungs, but didn’t. That suggested their breathing equipment was doing its job, but that there was another path of absorption — through the skin.

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Working fire in Palatine 3-15-18


Fire & Police Swap Meet

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3-Alarm fire in Bristol, WI – 3-14-18

This from Jeff Rudolph:

Bristol,WI 03/14/18

Several Illinois departments responded to Bristol ,WI for MABAS Box 52-6 to the 3rd alarm for a house fire on 177th st.

Jeff Rudolph

house destroyed by fire in Bristol WI

Jeff Rudolph photo

Lake Villa FPD tender

Jeff Rudolph photo

Grayslake FPD tanker (tender)

Jeff Rudolph photo

Antioch First Fire District water tender

Jeff Rudolph photo

Bristol FD fire engine drafting from a portable tank

Jeff Rudolph photo

Gurnee Fire Department tower ladder

Jeff Rudolph photo

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