Firefighting is a very physically demanding profession, so firefighter health and wellness should be of concern to all in the fire service. Living a healthy lifestyle, limiting toxic carcinogen exposures and maintaining a solid fitness program and clean nutrition plan must all be important priorities for firefighters. We face potential physical risks on every call, so making sure we stay fit and healthy is often our best defense to injury or illness. However, due to the inherent exposures we encounter, the dangers are not always obvious.

Firefighter Health and Wellness Dangers:

Some firefighter health and wellness hazards that are not as immediate or obvious as burns or building collapse include:

  • LIFESPAN: Studies have shown the life span of firefighters is on average, 10-15 years less than non-firefighters.
  • CARDIAC PROBLEMS:  A leading cause of deaths among firefighters is cardiac related problems, therefore, maintaining a healthy lifestyle and nutrition plan coupled with regular checkups is a necessary approach.
  • CANCER: Firefighters get diagnosed with cancer at a much higher rate than the general population.
  • EXPOSURE TO CONTAGIOUS DISEASE: This an inherent risk in our job when we run medical calls. Without proper, diligent use of PPE, we run the risk of exposing ourselves and our families to contagious diseases we encounter at work.
  • EXPOSURE TO HAZARDOUS MATERIALS: Even with the best Haz Mat teams and equipment available, we still run a risk of exposure. This often occurs due to lack of accurate information being conveyed during initial reports. We often don’t know what we are responding to, until we arrive and do an on-scene assessment.
  • POST INCIDENT EXPOSURES: Most professional departments now require use of SCBA’s during fires AND overhaul, but unfortunately, we still see some individuals doffing their SCBA’s during overhaul even though that is the time of greatest risk of toxic exposure. Even after the incident, when we return to the station, many firefighters are still being unnecessarily exposed to the toxic off gassing we experienced in the fire.

Unfortunately, the list of firefighter health and wellness hazards we face is MUCH longer than mentioned above. We are researching and writing articles to keep you informed on the latest threats and hazards to your health and safety as a firefighter today.

To see articles such as, “Cancer: The Unseen Firefighter Killer,” please use the BLOG link in the menu bar for articles on all topics in chronological order of posting, or use the HEALTH/SAFETY ARTICLES link under GET STARTED in the menu bar for articles on particular topics.