(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

Growls and Hugs for Feb. 20

Someone or something got your hackles up? Or maybe someone made you… Continue reading

Okanagan Shuswap weather: Hold on to your toque, wind and snow today

The sun will be hiding behind the clouds for the next few days

Revelstoke Acrobats bring home nine medals

Gymnastics club leaps to success on trampoline and double mini trampoline

Clovechok speaks to government remembering Field derailment victims

Doug Clovechok, Revelstoke’s MLA, spoke at the legislature today about the derailment… Continue reading

Branching out: learning to ski at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

It’s the first time at the hill for the editor of Revelstoke Review

CRTC: Telecom industry using unacceptable sales tactics

Regulator held inquiry on sales practices of 12 Canadian providers of wireless and internet services

West Kelowna family builds 9-foot tall snowman

A family in Glenrosa is making the most out of the snow

Elk herd crossing Highway 97B in search of food

Snow at higher elevations forces herd to move into valleys

CRTC report finds ‘misleading, aggressive’ sales tactics used by telecom industry

Report recommends measures to make a fairer situation for consumers

Guilty plea from one woman accused of stealing from Central Okanagan Hospice Association

A woman accused of bilking the hospice association of thousands of dollars made a court appearance.

Trudeau takes personal hit amid SNC-Lavalin controversy: poll

Overall, 41 per cent of respondents believed the prime minister had done something wrong in the affair

B.C. photographer captures otters on ice

A Langley photographer was at the right place at the right time on the Fraser River

Man charged in Kamloops kidnapping makes first court appearance

Kelowna - Justin Daniels has been charged with armed robbery and forcible confinement

Most Read