An article written by Brian F. McQueen on 8/4/17 explains the dangers the common firefighter encounters on all fires everyday somewhere around the world. The danger is smoke exposure from burning material that is filled with highly toxic chemicals that will cause some form of cancer. It has been studied that one out of every two firefighters will come down with this awful disease and in most cases lead to death.
We can have discussions all day long regarding workers’ compensation cancer coverage but in the end, the results are the same; A son, daughter, mother, or father is lost and families are forever changed with sadness and emptiness. The exposure still exists for the next firefighter.
I lost a dear friend to cancer several years ago and I promised him and his family that the fire service would honor him and never forget by changing how we approach fires. The change can happen if we all look at new firefighting technology that is available today. High and Ultra High pressure fire suppression systems have the ability to cut down at least 50% exposure to cancer causing burning material. The fire service studies prove fighting fire from the outside works but we still do it with traditional hand lines that have larger water drops that flood the structure and cause contaminated water run off. Much of the bigger water drops have no effect on the fire. This is called wasted energy. With high and ultra high systems, water is delivered in smaller drops with no wasted energy. The testing results are not debatable any longer. The fires go out quicker and the reduction to toxic smoke is drastically reduced therefore, reducing exposure to firefighters.
If we want to live healthier lives and become heroes to our family and heroes to our communities, we must move towards new fire suppression tools that work and benefit us and our communities. There is no reason not to change. Cancer is ugly and painful. Be a part of the new way to fight fire and reduce the cancer exposure.