(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

Good attendance at picnic for Autism Awareness Month

Looking for community input for a similar event next year

CRD encourages residents to prepare for spring melt

High stream flows, flooding, debris flows, high water tables or landslides could occur so residents should be prepared

Increase in property crime, caution urged handling street drugs

The weekly police report for the South Cariboo area

New Parkside exhibit full of feathers

‘You don’t expect miracles but this to me is miraculous’

Smoke between Gateway and 100 Mile House

(UPDATE: April 23, 10:10 a.m.) 100 Mile Fire Rescue at the scene until 7 p.m.

VIDEO: B.C. man recognized for spinning basketball on toothbrush

Abbotsford man holds world record for longest duration of time of 60.5 seconds

How to keep local news visible in your Facebook feed

Facebook has changed the news feed to emphasize personal connections. You might see less news.

B.C. man arrested in cross-border drug smuggling operation

William Milton Barnes of Victoria faces multiple charges

Political heavyweights hit Washington in hunt for NAFTA deal

Officials from Prime Minister’s office, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland part of talks

Greenbelt Microgreens recall in B.C., Alberta, due to Listeria concerns

Canadian Food Inspection Agency says there have been no illnesses linked to the microgreens

Commit to harassment-free environment or forego federal arts funding: Joly

$552,000 coming from feds for training so arts organizations build, maintain respectful workplaces

Aquilini-linked ranch fined $70,000 for storing cranes on farmland

Pitt Meadows council supporting application to Agricultural Land Commission

Minister calls out misogyny, but PM says too soon to talk motive in van attack

Alek Minassian is charged with 10 counts of first-degree murder and 13 counts of attempted murder

Decorated Canadian pairs skaters Duhamel and Radford officially retire

The Ontario duo took bronze in pairs at the Games in Pyeongchang, South Korea

Most Read