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Occupational Cancer is Killing Fire Fighters

January is Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month when local fire service organizations educate fire fighters about prevention and survival.


Occupational cancer is claiming the lives of more fire fighters than any other cause, including fires and other on-scene incidents. The Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois (AFFI), an affiliate of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN) are partnering to deliver targeted education about best practices and resources to prevent and reduce cancer among fire fighters during Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month in January.


During 2024 Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month (iaff.org/cancer-awareness-month), the IAFF and FCSN will partner to deliver targeted education and best practices and resources to reduce the impact of cancer on fire fighters.


This year’s Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month highlights comprehensive strategies to reduce cancer risk throughout a fire fighter’s life. This includes implementing best practices in station design to limit exposures to carcinogens, emphasizing precautions during firefighting like proper equipment use and designated decontamination zones. This month-long campaign will address personal risk factors during off-duty hours such as nutrition and stress and highlight fire fighter success stories to encourage awareness and engagement to end cancer in the fire service. 


“More than two-thirds of the names we added to our IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial Wall last September died of job-related cancer,” says IAFF General President Edward Kelly. “Science confirms that PFAS forever chemicals are driving the alarming rate of cancer in the fire service. We must do everything we can to eliminate this threat, not just for those on the job today, but for generations of fire fighters to follow. Together, the IAFF and the FCSN will do whatever it takes to keep fire fighters healthy and safe.”


“Ensuring the health and well-being of fire fighters is our top priority so we can keep our communities safe. We know that there needs to be further education, more assistance, and resources for fire fighters when it comes to navigating an occupational cancer diagnosis,” says AFFI President, Chuck Sullivan. “Working together with such dedicated groups, there is no doubt that this partnership will increase awareness and save lives.”


“Our members are being diagnosed with cancer due to on-the-job exposures. We have had the solemn duty of adding far too many of their names to the walls of our IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial,” says Sullivan. “That’s why we passed an AFFI Convention Resolution two years ago to establish January as Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month – to give our hard-working members the most up-to-date guidance and data that will allow them the opportunity to enjoy a long, safe career and a healthy retirement.”

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