Lebanon firefighters don pink shirts for breast cancer

Lebanon firefighters will be wearing pink all month in recognition of Breast Cancer Awareness month.

On average, firefighters have a 9% higher risk of developing cancer, and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer compared to the general public, according to the US Fire Administration. According to the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), 60% of the firefighters added to the Fallen Firefighter Memorial Wall of Honor since 2002 have succumbed to cancer, making it the number one cause of firefighter line-of-duty deaths. Occupational cancers firefighters are most susceptible to include respiratory cancers, oral, esophageal and intestinal cancers, kidney cancer, testicular cancer, skin cancer, brain cancer, colon cancer and more.

Even with protective gear, firefighters are exposed to much higher levels of carcinogens when entering burning buildings. These contaminants can linger on gear and skin and be absorbed through physical contact, or inhaled when on fire scenes. Additionally, PFAS, known commonly as “forever chemicals,” are often used when making fire-resistant safety gear that adds to a firefighter’s risk of developing cancer.

The Lebanon Fire District said it is committed to the safety and wellness of its firefighters who serve this community. Members of the district have traveled to conferences dedicated to firefighter health and safety and brought back valuable information when it comes to preventing occupational cancer.

The new station being built will include a “clean” room where firefighters will have the opportunity to perform gross decontamination procedures before entering the living quarters of the station. Exhaust fans that do a better job of filtering out harmful exhaust in the bays will also be installed. For firefighter gear, the PPE procurement teams have begun working with manufacturers to purchase gear that protects firefighters from contaminants during the next replacement cycles.