January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month, as cancer is one of the largest health concerns facing these brave individuals.
According to Russell Dennis, IAFF Local 1324 Vice President and Firefighter for the City of Fairbanks, occupational cancer diagnoses are the largest cause of deaths in the line of duty, which was also confirmed by the CDC.
“Our job is to run into burning buildings, and the byproducts of combustion are highly cancerous,” Dennis explained. “Cancer is prevalent in the fire service. It is getting worse despite our efforts, and we have decided - as a service, our union, as a department, all across the country and in fact internationally - we have decided it’s something we need to tackle ourselves. We need to get the public to be aware, we need to get legislators to be aware and to take action so that our job isn’t causing us increased risk to cancer.”