(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

East Kootenay Open this weekend

Fernie tennis players are warming up for the biggest tournament east of the Okanagan.

Community spirit shines at centennial

Hundreds have helped mark Fernie Golf Club’s 100th anniversary

SAR rescues injured dog after fall

A rope technician was able to reach the dog after being lowered nearly 90 metres down the cliffs.

Fernie-born location manager honoured

Rino Pace has scouted the locations for roughly 50 films, including X-Men, Inception and Deadpool.

South Country firefighters called out twice Thursday

Shortly after tackling a wildfire near Baynes Lake, firefighters were called out to a structure fire in Elko

REPLAY: B.C.’s best video this week

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

Riptide, CVUSC paved the way for varsity soccer players

Chloe Gummer has become a leader at VIU

B.C. woman disappointed after family asked for ID at townhouse complex pool

Surrey woman says it’s not the first time she has experienced racial profiling at the complex

Park pipeline protesters say arrest is a ‘declaration of war’

Group behind North Thompson River Provincial Park occupation protest says arrest is ‘declaration of war’

A day of deals at Amazon, and at its rivals

Online retail giant extends annual ‘Prime Day’ promotion to 36 hours

Alert B.C. campers raise alarm and avert potential propane disaster

Salmon Arm camper lodges a complaint with Technical Safety BC after motorhome tank is over-filled.

Non-union construction industry fears exclusion in B.C.

Premier John Horgan announces new Crown corporation for public works

UPDATED: Putin says he wanted Trump to win in 2016, didn’t interfere

The two leaders arrived Monday at Helsinki’s presidential palace for a long-awaited summit

In TV interview, Trump claims queen called Brexit ‘complex’

Asked the queen’s view on Brexit, Trump said: “She said it’s a very complex problem.”

Most Read