Archive for category Cancer in the fire service

Cancer in the fire service

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The Ray Pfeifer Foundation confirmed on Twitter Wednesday that two more New York City firefighters have died due to “9/11 illness,” marking the 199th, and 200th FDNY deaths related to the World Trade Center attacks. Retired FDNY Captain Dennis Gilhooly of Engine Company 67, and retired Firefighter Brian Casse of Engine Company 294, both died.

The Ray Pfeifer Foundation was established in memory of an FDNY firefighter who died on May 28, 2017 from cancer related to 9/11. He was a leading force in lobbying to extend the Zadroga Act through 2090, ensuring health care coverage for 75,000 people who need, or will need, treatment for health conditions developed as a direct result of 9/11 exposure.

In March 2018, the Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York reported that more than 170 firefighters had died as the result of illnesses related to the World Trade Center attacks. More than 50,000 people have illnesses linked to their exposure to toxins that were released after the towers collapsed.

Scientific evidence linking the attacks to cancer is still unsettled. Researchers studying illnesses among people exposed to the 9/11 dust cloud have found an unusual number of deaths from brain malignancies and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, but fewer deaths than expected from other types of cancer.

Securing federal funding for the 9/11 Victim Compensation Fund, which covers medical treatment for 9/11 emergency personnel, has been a battle.

Luis Alvarez, a former New York City police detective who publicly fought for the fund, including an appearance in front of Congress near the end of his battle with colorectal cancer, died in June. He was 53.

In July, President Trump signed the “Never Forget the Heroes Act,” extending the compensation fund through 2092, and securing an additional $10.2 billion in payments over the next 10 years.

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Cancer in the Fire Service

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The Cortland Fire Department deployed engines and other fire trucks full of Rick “Spider” Kramer’s brothers to wish him well in his ongoing battle with cancer. Everyone who was there gave their him a hug. Kramer spent 43 years as a firefighter, including 12 as a volunteer with the Cortland Fire Department, and he is currently the Fourth Ward alderman in Sycamore.

He started fighting stage 4 nasophyangeal cancer in May, which was originally thought to just be congestion and earaches. It’s been tough to say the least. Despite the rough road, he remains optimistic.

The department, made entirely of volunteers, presented the Kramers with an $8,700 check. $7,600 was raised during a recent benefit and the fire department donated the other $1,100 to the Pink Heals Tri-cities chapter.

The Kramers were overwhelmed by the showing in front of their house. They knew people were coming to present them with a check, but knowing and seeing were two different things for them.

Gloria Kramer said after Tuesday’s chemotherapy treatment, her husband will have a break, undergo some tests, and then sometime after that he’ll begin radiation treatments. She said the town of Sycamore has been very generous, and both the Cortland and Sycamore fire departments have been amazing.

Rick was taken aback by the support the Cortland firefighters and paramedics showed.

thanks Dorothy

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Cortland Fire Department news

benefit for firefighter

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Cancer in the Fire Service

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Recently, the Champaign-Urbana community has rallied behind a local firefighter battling cancer.


Peoria Fire Department news

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Peoria Fire Chief Ed Olehy is working to craft policies to cut down on firefighter exposure to carcinogens. Currently, the Peoria Fire Department does not have a procedure to reduce the risk from cancer-causing substances that stick to gear during a working fire. 

The danger is real. Three active-duty members of the fire department have recently died from cancer. Olehy says cleaning off gear requires helping firefighters change old habits and attitudes.  It can be especially challenging to clean off gear with a soap and brush in extreme weather. And with only one set of gear per firefighter, swapping out isn’t an option. 

The Peoria Fire Department recently received a grant for three new extractors that are being installed and they are working to implement standard operating guidelines to reduce the cancer risk for the men and women of the fire department. 

The chief recently received an Executive Fire Officer Degree from the National Fire Academy after defending a paper on this topic to a panel of experts. 

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North Chicago Fire Department news

From the North Chicago Firefighters IAFF Local 3271 Facebook page:

Our brother Keith Peacy has been diagnosed with stage 4 colon cancer and has the fight of his life coming. Let stand together in Keith’s corner while he kicks cancers colon. Keith is a 16 year veteran with NCFD and has spend countless hours helping the less fortunate while on mission trips to Haiti. He is also a member of the WHFD. Now its time to help our brother out.

North Chicago Firefighter Keith Peacy



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Cancer in the fire service

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Under legislation pending in Albany (NY), city firefighters would be granted a five-year post-retirement period in which they could revise their retirement option if they developed cancer that may be linked to carcinogens they were exposed to on the job.

Epidemiological studies have established the firefighting-cancer link for several years. A 2013 study published in the Journal of Occupational Environmental Medicine, based on the review of the health records of 30,000 firefighters from Chicago, Philadelphia and San Francisco, found “evidence of a relation between firefighting and cancer” and a new finding that found evidence of “excess malignant mesothelioma” as well.

Since 2002, cancer was the cause in almost two out of every three firefighter line-of-duty deaths, according to the International Association of Fire Fighters.

Also included would be any WTC firefighter who developed cancer subsequently but was told by officials that they developed it too soon after 9/11 to claim it was job-related under the Zadroga Act.

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention cited formaldehyde, asbestos, and arsenic as problematic.


Cancer in the fire service

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Three firefighters in the 36-member Scottsboro Fire Department (AL) have been diagnosed with occupational-related cancer in recent years. One of them died last year. The other two were able to return to work after treatment. One had $20,000 in out-of-pocket expenses, including deductibles and co-pays.

Fire officials around the state praised a new Alabama law that will require local governments to provide supplemental insurance coverage for career firefighters diagnosed with cancer. The bill lists about 20 specific types of cancer, including lung, thyroid, brain, Hodgkin’s lymphoma, and non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

The insurance is a better, more flexible option than an expanded workmen’s compensation program. House Bill 360 calls for a lump-sum benefit for firefighters diagnosed with cancer. The cap is $50,000 over a lifetime. There is also a monthly benefit of $3,000 for up to 36 months. The legislation also gives volunteer firefighters and retired firefighters the option of paying for the supplemental coverage themselves.

The Alabama League of Municipalities worked on legislation with firefighters. It estimates the requirement will cost government authorities $200 per policy annually. Local funds would pay for the increase in insurance coverage, which was a part that many of the bill’s cosponsors liked about the bill.

A lot of the cancer-causing contaminants are ingested after the firefighter is done dealing with the deadly fire. When the firefighters return to their station and they fail to properly wash and clean their Personal Protective Equipment, then left over contaminants can be absorbed into the firefighter’s skin and their surroundings. Carcinogens are mostly absorbed through the lungs but the skin is the second most concerning access route.

For firefighters, the dangerous part of their job used to be the actual fires they were putting out or the building collapsing beneath them. However, today cancer is the more likely killer of firefighters.

According to the Firefighter Cancer Support Network, cancer caused 70% of the line-of-duty deaths for career firefighters in 2016. A multi-year study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health found that firefighters had a 9% increase in cancer diagnosis and an 14% increase in cancer-related deaths compared to U.S. population rates.

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Cancer in the fire service

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Legislation designating nine types of cancer as on-the-job injuries for firefighters cleared a House committee Tuesday in North Carolina despite opposition from a powerful lobbying group.

Statistically, firefighters are at a higher risk than the general public for esophageal, intestinal, rectal, testicular, brain, and oral cavity cancers, as well as non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, multiple myeloma, and mesothelioma. House Bill 520 would change North Carolina’s workers compensation law to presume that a firefighter diagnosed with one of those cancers got it on the job.

Currently, firefighters who can’t prove their cancer was caused by their occupation must get their insurance to cover as much of their treatment costs as possible. Many have to keep working through chemotherapy and radiation treatments.

A legislative counsel for the North Carolina League of Municipalities argued against the change, saying adjusting workers comp for a single class of employees has been found unconstitutional by the courts in the past. Counties and cities worry that the proposal, if passed, would increase workers comp costs for local governments that employ firefighters.

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Cancer in the fire service

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Arkansas legislators passed Crump’s Law on Monday, granting municipal firefighters across the state an extra six months of paid sick leave when they are being treated for cancer contracted on the job. Although the firefighters initially pushed for one full year of paid sick leave for those who are diagnosed with occupational cancer, they are happy with the compromise because it protects both firefighters and the municipalities they work in.

Crump’s Law is named after Nathanial Crump, a Little Rock firefighter who, due to a lack of sick time available, was forced to return to work while still fighting cancer. Crump later died after being transported to the hospital from his fire station.

Before Crump’s Law, firefighters were entitled to up to 2,160 hours of paid sick leave, depending on the length of their employment with a department. Since firefighters typically work 24-hour shifts, that amounts to about three months of leave. For Crump’s Law to affect a firefighter, they must have been with their department for at least five years; the five year quota is because that is about the least amount of time it could take for someone to be exposed to enough carcinogens on the job to develop occupational cancer. 

Not every type of cancer is covered under the bill; if a firefighter develops a type of cancer that has not been scientifically linked to their job, they will not qualify for the extended leave.

Members of El Dorado Professional Firefighters Local 1704 representing 90 percent of the paid firefighters in El Dorado, lobbied at the state Capitol in February for the bill’s passage. In addition to Crump’s Law, House bill 1345 also passed, allowing firefighters to take a disability retirement if they are diagnosed with occupational cancer and have been working for their department for long enough.

When the firefighters lobbied at the Capitol in February, they were also supporting HB1614, known as the firefighters’ bill of rights. That bill was pulled from the current legislative session in order to make changes to it, but it may be revisited at the next legislative session.

The EFD has a washer/extractor at each station so firefighters can wash their gear after wearing it at the scene of a fire. Firefighters have an extra set of gear to wear when their primary suits are in the wash; there are also enough protective hoods for each firefighter to wash theirs at any time and still have one to wear if they’re called to a fire.

Additionally, when fire trucks are parked at the station, their exhaust pipes are connected to hoses that allow the exhaust to exit the station, instead of getting trapped inside.  Firefighters also use Rescue Wipes, which allow them to clean ash and soot off their skin at the scene of a fire.

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