Palm Beach County Firefighters and Researchers Unite to Fight Cancer

Palm Beach County Firefighters and Researchers Unite to Fight Cancer


Firefighters rush to the scene of fires and other emergencies. They are there for us when we need them. But their job of life-savings may come with some risks.

Firefighters are twice as likely to get cancer as civilians. When they enter a burning building, they face carcinogens through the smoke and flames. Protective gear protects them only so much. Over time, the materials they encounter can activate cancer within their bodies.


The risk for cancer


Cancer is the leading cause of death for many firefighters. Some home building materials aren’t carcinogenic until they burn, and firefighters gets soot and smoke on their gear and sometimes into their lungs. Removing protective gear is a process that can still expose firefighters to carcinogenic substances.

So, what can be done to lower the risk of cancer for our firefighters? Researchers and firefighters in Palm Beach County have united to find out. The Firefighter Cancer Initiative seeks to discover what causes cancer in firefighters and how to combat it so that the risk is lowered as firefighters do their jobs. It combines cancer studies with the new prevention protocols development and monitoring technologies.


A shared mission


Fundraising is one of the activities that the firefighters engage in for the Firefighter Cancer Initiative. Research into cancer and prevention protocols requires financing. The firefighters run or bike marathons to raise the necessary funding.

The Firefighter Cancer Initiative began in 2014. It started with a call from Palm Beach County Fire Rescue and eventually included other fire departments. The teams wanted firefighters to understand their cancer risk and come up with strategies to prevent cancer. They also provide support for firefighters who are currently dealing with cancer.

Cancer is a real risk for firefighters. Improving their protection protocols can help to reduce that risk. Every time firefighters enter a burning building, they are facing a risk for cancer. The fire departments involved in the Firefighter Cancer Initiative are working together with a shared mission.

The Firefighter Cancer Initiative has seen $3.5 million dollars in state appropriations over the past four years. Through a combination of fundraising and state funding, the initiative hopes to further its goals of cancer research, prevention, and treatment for the hard-working firefighters in the county. Their research will also benefit firefighters across the country.


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