The topic of cancer and how it relates to the fire service is one that has been front page news for quite some time. It is no secret that we as firefighters are at a much higher risk to contract a host of cancers. Much time has been spent communicating the importance of washing and decontaminating our gear after we leave a fire. However, I pose the question: "Is laundering our gear enough to reduce our risk?”
Mental illness has been characterized in movies and television as raging, grandiose individuals. Sometimes that does occur, but it’s in a fraction of the population with mental illness today.
After 20-plus years in sports medicine, strength and conditioning, and tactical fitness there are not many times I walk away from a conference with a treasure trove of new and updated science.
When we talk about firefighter wellness, there always seems to be the debate as to what constitutes health? I sometimes struggle with Safety and Health Week, as I do with Fire Prevention Week, as to how we become more sensitive to the issue by proclaiming a week in its honor when we are actually dealing with a 365-day challenge to define and address our firefighters’ health.
We work day after day with our fellow firefighters and know them better than anyone else. And we all know firefighters who may be struggling with personal issues. With 20 to 30 percent of firefighters battling addiction, PTSD, depression or other mental health issues, it's time we all look at each other and offer help.
Cancer. This simple six-letter word strikes fear into everyone who has been diagnosed with the dreaded disease, but too many members of the fire service are like the proverbial ostrich with their head buried in the sand: They act as though by ignoring the issue, they can make it go away or that it somehow won’t affect them.
The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) have announced the theme for the 2015 International Fire/EMS Safety and Health Week: Creating a Culture of Safety.
“You have cancer!” … the three words that no one would ever want to hear. These three words are truly game changers in the life of countless firefighters across our country. For my family, my friends and the brotherhood within the fire service in my county, surrounding counties and the state, the news of my cancer diagnosis was taken quite hard by many.
Sometimes … as hard as it may be for us to understand, there are incidents that occur when we fail despite how good a crew we may have had on the first due rigs. Sometimes it doesn’t matter how hard you may have trained and prepared for your moment to perform.
Among the approximately 1.1 million firefighters in the United States (of whom about 70% are volunteers and 30% are paid career personnel), about 100 die each year in the line of duty. With the exception of 2001, when 344 firefighters died as a result of the events of September 11 at the World Trade Center in New York City, the number of deaths per year has stayed relatively steady, even though the number of structural fires in the United States has been steadily decreasing.