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Fire fighter occupational cancer is the leading cause of line-of-duty death in the fire service.

At the 2023 IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial, 63% of the names added to the wall were members who had died from occupational cancer.

In partnership with the Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN), the IAFF has designated January as Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month to provide fire fighters the necessary tools and guidance to develop life-saving protocols for cancer prevention and to support those with a cancer diagnosis within their departments.

Bringing increased public awareness to occupational cancer in the fire service will help generate greater legislative support for states and provinces to establish presumptive disabilities for all cancers affecting fire fighters.

#FFCancerMonth #FightFFCancer

How To Get Started

The content on this website is designed to help IAFF leaders, members and their fire departments become more educated and aware about why cancer cases are on the rise in the fire service and provides best practices on how to limit day-to-day exposures to carcinogens.

Each week focuses on a specific theme; each theme builds on the previous week’s theme. By the end of the month, members, locals and fire departments will have the knowledge and resources to understand how fire fighters are exposed to carcinogens, what happens when they are exposed, how to prevent exposures, make culture changes in their department and assist those who are diagnosed with cancer.

Resources for each week include factsheets, relevant research and social graphics. These specific areas will help you to navigate the content and focus on topics of interest.

All resources are available to review at your convenience, but we encourage using the content from each week to hold a weekly safety stand down in your department. In addition to weekly content, training briefs are provided and should be used as discussion tools to educate fire fighters on reducing the risk of occupational cancer.

Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month takes place in January, but these resources should be used throughout the year. We encourage you to check frequently for more information about specific topics.

Week 1: Best Practices to Reduce Cancer at the Fire Station

This week we will be highlighting how to reduce the risk of exposure to carcinogens through best practices around station design of hot, warm/transition, and cold zones to reduce the migration of carcinogens from contaminated areas like the apparatus bay to clean zones such as kitchens and sleeping quarters. If station design is not an option, we also highlight ways to reduce exposure through personal efforts and modifiable risk factors.

To get the most from this week, we recommend taking one day this week to conduct a Safety Stand Down. All resources are also available to review at your convenience.



Call to Action: What Can You Do?

PowerPoint: Fire Station Best Practices

Fire Fighter Survivor Stories: 

Webpage: PFAS and Turnout Gear

Week 1: Reduce Cancers In Station

Week 2: Best Practices to Reduce Cancer on the Fireground

This week we will focus on cancer reduction when actively responding to a fire. Materials throughout the week will highlight best practices around SCBA use, preliminary exposure reduction processes, bagging gear, and designating zones on the fireground to reduce exposures as you transition from active firefighting to rehab.



Call to Action: What can you do?

PowerPoint: Fireground Best Practices

Fire Fighter Survivor Story:

Locals/Departments in Action:

Week 2: Reduce Cancers on Fireground

Week 3: Best Practices to Reduce Cancer Off-Duty/Personal Life

The past few weeks we’ve covered efforts to reduce cancer both at the fire station and on the fire ground. This week, we will capture risk factors while you are off shift. The materials this week will cover a variety of personal modifiable risk factors you can address both on and off the job to reduce your cancer risk. Some of these factors include tobacco and alcohol use, fitness, nutrition, sleep hygiene, and stress.



Call to Action: What can you do?

PowerPoint: Modifiable Risk Factors

Fire Fighter Survivor Story: 

Take Action Videos:

Take Action Resources:

Week 3: Reduce Cancers Off Duty

Week 4: Survivorship & Cancer Prevention in Action

This week, we want to highlight some of the cancer success stories from brothers and sisters around the IAFF. These stories include personal survival stories, departments’ success stories, and efforts you can get involved with to stay informed with the best practices to reduce your risk of developing occupationally linked cancer.


Factsheet: Survivorship and Supporting Those Diagnosed

PowerPoint: Survivorship

Fire Fighter Survivor Stories:

Support & Prevention in Action:

Week 4: Survivorship


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Survivor Stories

Donna Luce-MacDonald

Local 799, Providence, RI

Lonnie Mitteis

Local 647, Grand Island, NE

Kyle O'Neill

Local 145, San Diego, CA

Survivor Stories

Education Presentations

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Education Presentations


Free Research Studies 

  1. Daniels RD, Kubale TL, Yiin JH, Dahm MM, Hales TR, Baris D, Zahm SH, Beaumont JJ, Waters KM, Pinkerton LE. Mortality and cancer incidence in a pooled cohort of US firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia (1950-2009). Occup Environ Med. 2014 Jun.

  2. Pukkala E, Martinsen JI, Weiderpass E, Kjaerheim K, Lynge E, Tryggvadottir L, Sparén P, Demers PA. Cancer incidence among firefighters: 45 years of follow-up in five Nordic countries. Occup Environ Med. 2014 Jun.

  3. Jalilian H, Ziaei M, Weiderpass E, Rueegg CS, Khosravi Y, Kjaerheim K. Cancer incidence and mortality among firefighters. Int J Cancer. 2019 Nov.

  4. Fent KW, Alexander B, Roberts J, Robertson S, Toennis C, Sammons D, Bertke S, Kerber S, Smith D, Horn G. Contamination of firefighter personal protective equipment and skin and the effectiveness of decontamination procedures. J Occup Environ Hyg. 2017 Oct.

  5. Dahm MM, Bertke S, Allee S, Daniels RD. Creation of a retrospective job-exposure matrix using surrogate measures of exposure for a cohort of US career firefighters from San Francisco, Chicago and Philadelphia. Occup Environ Med. 2015 Sep.

  6. Booze TF, Reinhardt TE, Quiring SJ, Ottmar RD. A screening-level assessment of the health risks of chronic smoke exposure for wildland firefighters. J Occup Environ Hyg. 2004 May.

 Recommended Studies (Pay for) 

  1. LeMasters GK, Genaidy AM, Succop P, Deddens J, Sobeih T, Barriera-Viruet H, Dunning K, Lockey J. Cancer risk among firefighters: a review and meta-analysis of 32 studies. J Occup Environ Med. 2006 Nov.

  2. J Keir JLA, Akhtar US, Matschke DMJ, White PA, Kirkham TL, Chan HM, Blais JM. Polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbon (PAH) and metal contamination of air and surfaces exposed to combustion emissions during emergency fire suppression: Implications for firefighters’ exposures. Sci Total Environ. 2020 Jan

  3. Keir JLA, Akhtar US, Matschke DMJ, Kirkham TL, Chan HM, Ayotte P, White PA, Blais JM. Elevated Exposures to Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarbons and Other Organic Mutagens in Ottawa Firefighters Participating in Emergency, On-Shift Fire Suppression. Environ Sci Technol. 2017 Nov.


Further Information

The IAFF and the FCSN have done a great job compiling information for the newly created "Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month" in January.  

Further info can be found on the IAFF site here: FIREFIGHTER CANCER AWARENESS MONTH

The Firefighter Cancer Support Network has a fantastic website full of information, links, research guides and contact information for support.  You can visit their website here: FCSN

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