(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

Tweedsmuir Park wildfires grow to encompass more than 200,000 hectares

Four fires now managed under one as Tweedsmuir Complex, evacation orders and alerts still in place

‘Beauty amongst such tragedy:’ B.C. photographer captures nature’s trifecta

David Luggi’s photo from a beach in Fraser Lake shows Shovel Lake wildfire, Big Dipper and an aurora

B.C. declares state of emergency as more than 560 wildfires rage

This is only the fourth state of emergency ever issued during a fire season

UPDATE: 5 injured in plane crash following Abbotsford International Airshow

One in critical condition in incident involving vintage plane

Social media, digital photography allow millennials to flock to birdwatching

More young people are flocking to birdwatching than ever, aided by social media, digital photography

Former Trump aide Paul Manafort found guilty of eight charges

A mistrial has been declared for the other 10 charges against him

Canada’s team chasing elusive gold medal at women’s baseball World Cup

Canada, ranked No. 2 behind Japan, opens play Wednesday against No. 10 Hong Kong

Former B.C. detective gets 20 months in jail for kissing teen witnesses

James Fisher, formerly with Vancouver police department, pleaded guilty to three charges in June

Former B.C. premier Christy Clark criticizes feds for buying pipeline

The $4.5 billion purchase of Kinder Morgan’s Trans Mountain pipeline second worst decision, she said

‘Takes more courage to fail’: B.C. ultra-marathon swimmer reflects on cancelled try at record

Susan Simmons halted her swim from Victoria to Port Angeles and back because of hypothermia

Animals moved from B.C. Interior shelters to make way for pets displaced by wildfires

The Maple Ridge SPCA houses animals to make space for pets evacuated from B.C.’s burning interior.

$21.5 million medical pot plant to be built in B.C.

The facility is to be built in Princeton

Spokane man enlists 500,000+ box fans to blow wildfire smoke back to B.C.

Spokane man Caleb Moon says he’s had enough with smoky skies from B.C.’s forest fires blanketing his city

Most Read