It’s Cancer Awareness Month in the Fire Services across the county and the County of Vermilion River has committed to reducing Cancer in 2022 by implementing a program to promote awareness and build habits.
Cancer doesn’t differentiate between career or volunteer firefighters, since all are exposed to multiple Cancer-causing agents through a variety of exposure routes while battling fires.
Kirk Hughes is the Fire Chief and the Director of Protective Services in the County of Vermilion River.
“Cancer is the leading cause of firefighter-related deaths in Canada. It is an under-recognized threat to our health and safety,” Fire Chief Hughes told Lakeland Connect.
Fire Chief Hughes says, the make-up of fire has changed considerably in the last decade or more.
“Chemical composition of furniture, plastics in items such as televisions and electronic devices, even the building materials of homes burn quicker and dirtier – releasing more toxins than in the past,” Fire Chief Hughes said.
The County of Vermilion River is currently implementing a program to promote awareness and build habits in its commitment to reducing Cancer in 2022.
“The first step is ensuring that every station has an adequate washing machine, for washing of bunker gear, combined with proper detergent and cleaning materials, to remove toxins shortly after a fire,” Fire Chief Hughes said. “The preference is that this occurs at a fire station, and not at a volunteer’s home to avoid cross-contamination.”
Additionally steps include the purchase of pressure washers for cleaning of trucks and equipment, the use of de-contamination wipes on-scene, and the utilization of Soot © soap for personal washing.
“It is a small investment that will pay dividends in the future,” Fire Chief Hughes said. “Reducing cancer exposure is an important part of our Occupational Health & Safety program as mentioned in our Fire Master Plan.”