There have been 45,939 wildfires this year alone, according to the Insurance Information Institute. Firefighters put their lives at risk, but these recent fires are not the only danger to them. There is something else just as deadly—cancer.
Among the many lives that were lost during 9/11, more than 150 have died or have gotten “dozen[s] of different cancer, asthma and other respiratory problems,” according to Dr. David Prezant, chief medical officer of the New York Fire Department.
Thirteen years ago, an electrical transformer blew up and spilled chemicals onto Jeffery Delbert, a Dallas Firefighter and three other firefighters. All of them died from cancer. The chemicals from the fire remained on their gear and due to the lack of having another pair, Jeff continued to wear that gear.
Delbert passed away from brain cancer following the incident. Dana Delbert Plummer, the widow of Jeffery Delbert, was left with three young children to raise on her own.
Jeffery Delbert was the first firefighter whose death from cancer was recognized as a line of duty death by the city of Dallas.
Besides this, the gear firefighters return is heavily covered in sud and firefighters continue to inhale the substances. In most cases, like Jeffrey Delbert, firefighters only have one set of gear each, making it hard to keep clean.
The Leukemia and Lymphoma Society stated many buildings contain synthetic plastics materials that create more smoke when burning than natural materials. They release a number of carcinogens (cancer-causing agents) including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, a group with more than 100 chemicals.
With this in mind, Congress established the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2018. This established a registry of firefighters’, both volunteer and on payroll, health information, so it could be determined when a firefighter likely contracted cancer.
According to the National Firefighter Registry, the data collected will be used to track and analyze cancer trends and risk factors among U.S. fire service, finding possible solutions to aid protect those who protect the people.
The cancer rate among firefighters is nine percent higher than the average person. Firefighters who contract cancer face a 14 percent higher likelihood of dying from it, but increased awareness and regular cleanups of the equipment reduced the chances of cancer, stated the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
“On Oct 27, there were over 5000 firefighters battling 22 wildfires in California with more responding to 42 more,” stated the California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection. “The fires do not seem to be spreading far due to strong wind.”
“Firefighters are waging war many of us don’t see,” stated David Schechter, reporter and host of Verify Road Trip. “It’s a war you can’t train for— it’s a war against cancer.”