Are you tracking your fire exposures? One of the most important, yet most overlooked aspects of a Cancer prevention program, is the tracking of your career fire exposures. Throughout the course of their career, firefighters are routinely exposed to numerous chemicals and carcinogens on a relatively routine basis. It’s the exposure to these by-products of combustion that increase the likelihood of a Cancer diagnosis for firefighters. Current statistics indicate that firefighters have a 9% increased risk to develop a Cancer, and a 14% increased risk of dying from a Cancer when compared to the general population.
Why is tracking your exposures important? Quite simply, it paints a picture of your career. If you were to ever receive a Cancer diagnosis, your exposure reports can be vital information to provide to your medical team, or to provide to your employer if seeking a workers compensation claim. Too many firefighters have realized the importance of keeping good records after they’ve received the diagnosis. Of course at that point, it’s oftentimes too late!
How can you track your career exposures? First, we need to understand what constitutes an exposure. Essentially, any time you come into contact with a known chemical or any fire smoke, you need to consider that an exposure. There are a few ways to track your fire exposures. Quite simply, you can start a written or electronic journal to document your exposures. To take it one step further, you can download free exposure reports from an online source, print them off and fill them out. Or, while you are searching online, you can also find fire exposure databases through various online companies that allow you to track your fire exposures using their online forms. Most of these require a small annual fee, but the online resources often outweigh the minor expense to maintain an online database.
The Firefighter Cancer Support Network is here to assist any firefighter who receives a Cancer diagnosis. All you need to do is check us out online for the most current contact information.