(UFV photo)

Cancer leading cause of death for firefighters, B.C. study finds

University of Fraser Valley researchers looked at 10 years of data tracking firefighter injuries

Cancer is the leading cause of death for Canadian firefighters, compared to any other fatal illness or injury, a new B.C.-based study has revealed.

According to a study by the University of the Fraser Valley released this week, firefighters are 86 per cent more likely to die from cancer than of illnesses such as cardiovascular disease, traumatic injury and mental health issues.

That equates to about 50 firefighters out of 100,000, which makes those who battle blazes two to three times more likely to die from cancer than the general population.

Led by university adjunct professor and Surrey fire chief Len Garis, in partnership with the B.C. Injury Research and Prevention Unit, 10 years of firefighter health and injury data was reviewed.

“As with all prevention activities, it will be many years before we realize the fruits of our work,” Garis said. “However, the work we do now will mean that after a long career of serving the public, more firefighters will live longer and healthier lives.”

So what’s behind the smoke?

Firefighters are regularly exposed to concentrated carcinogens in the air, soot and tar at a fire ground – a likely cause leading to fire members aged 55 to 59 seeing the brunt of cancer symptoms, and being forced to take time off through time-loss claims.

Meanwhile, when responding to emergencies, firefighters are often exposed to extreme temperatures, strenuous physical labour, falling objects, diseases, toxic substances and violence or other traumatic events, the study suggests.

Last year the B.C government added three more cancers to the list of Firefighter’s Occupational Disease Regulation. Through the amended legislation, firefighters are eligible to receive workers compensation after a certain amount of time without having to prove that their cancer is specifically from firefighting.

“Through this study we see that firefighter health risks evolve over time,” study co-author Rachel Ramsden said.

“This points to the need for a method of continually collecting and analyzing firefighter health data, so that the interventions can remain in sync.”


@ashwadhwani
ashley.wadhwani@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Fire near Baynes Lake

UPDATE: An update at approximately 9:30 p.m. on Sunday placed the fire… Continue reading

Deadline set for Bingay petition

Time is running out for residents to add their signature to a petition opposing a new coal mine.

Contractor death sparks safety calls

MLA for Kootenay East to advocate for better workplace practices after Fording River incident.

New MRI unit to increase access

Elk Valley patients currently face a 43-week wait for an MRI exam.

CrossFit Fernie to host second Festivus games

It will be survival of the fittest when CrossFit Fernie hosts its second Festivus games on Saturday.

REPLAY: B.C. this week in video

In case you missed it, here’s a look at replay-worthy highlights from across the province this week

Dix says B.C. remains focused on fighting youth overdoses in wake of teen’s death

Elliot Eurchuk’s parents say he died at his Oak Bay home after taking street drugs

Final week for ALR input

Public consultation process closes April 30

‘When everybody leaves: Counselling key to help Humboldt move on after bus crash

Dealing with life after a tragedy can be the worst part following a loss

Vandals target bridge

Fernie Trails Alliance volunteers have spent hours removing graffiti from the Fairy Creek Bridge.

Half-naked shooter guns down four, runs away in Nashville Waffle House shooting

Nashville police say they are looking for Travis Reinking in connection with the shooting

Child’s body found in river downstream from where boy went missing during flood

Three-year-old Kaden Young was swept out of his mother’s arms in February

B.C. VIEWS: Eliminating efficiency for farm workers

Don’t worry, NDP says, the B.C. economy’s booming

B.C. student makes short-list for autism advocacy award

Brody Butts honoured for his role as a mentor and self-advocate

Most Read