Firefighters and Cancer Mario H. TrevinoPresentation Transcript
Firefighters and Cancer
Mario H. Trevino
Fire Chief, (retired)
Seattle Fire Department: 1973-1996
Las Vegas Fire Department: 1997-2001
San Francisco Fire Department: 2001-2004
Bellevue Fire Department: 2004-2008
National Fallen Firefighters Foundation Firefighter Mortality & Morbidity Statistics
100 Line of Duty Firefighter Deaths Per Year
Thousands of Injuries
Tracking for causes:
We don’t track CANCER
The Culture of the 1970’s Seattle Fire Department
Aggressive “interior attack”
SCBA’s available, but rarely used
Our heroes were macho “smoke-eaters”
Turnouts: one-layer treated canvas, wool liners (full turnouts only used at night)
One-layer leather gloves from hardware stores
Fibreglass helmets with nylon-webbing for impact
“ Clean-ups” lasted for hours, no protection
Widespread Tobacco usage.
My Cancer Diagnosis: August, 2008
Seattle PI Article; 1/3 of Seattle Firefighters Hired Before 1977 Have Developed Cancer
975 Seattle Firefighters Hired Before 1977
347 Had Cancer, Had Been Treated for Cancer, or Died from Cancer (33.8%).
47 Have Been Diagnosed Since July, 2008 (4.5%).
38.4% Of Total Affected.
FUTURE DIAGNOSES? 50%, 60%,
or even 70% Possible.
Cancer Incidence Among Firefighters
While 100 Firefighters Die Line-of-Duty Deaths Per Year, HUNDREDS More Die From Cancer that we may not know about.
Firefighters are 200% More Likely To Get Cancer Than General Population:
300% Above Normal Rate for Lung Cancer
200% Above Normal Rate for Throat Cancer
150% Above Normal Rate for Pancreatic Cancer
Carcinogens in smoke
Common construction since the 1940’s; still widely used today
Widely used (75%) to treat lumber, discontinued in 2004
Product of combustion: drywall products, spray-paint cans, etc.
Commonly found in diesel exhaust
Many, many more. Smoke is a ‘toxic soup” of carcinogens
Asbestos Arsenic Formaldehyde Benzene Cyanide, Etc.
“ Danced With The Devil” article
What do you do when you hear about someone who gets cancer?
You send a card
Maybe flowers, fruit basket, books (depending on closeness)
Then, you wait.
Within six months: did they live or die?
We have an aversion to hearing too much about cancer
Almost a superstition
I wanted to write about the “in between” details that
we normally don’t hear about.
I didn’t hold back on the brutal details: I wanted to have
an impact on firefighters.
The mission: provide the warning that we never got in the 70’s
Do We Still Have A Problem?
Chris- Prince William County…
Ted- San Francisco…
AND Brian in New York, Paul in Anchorage, David in Indiana, Chris in Arizona, Frank in Los Angeles, Calvin in Utah, Tella in Virginia, Travis in Colorado, etc. etc. etc…..
Yes. Our problem is still our culture.
Has The Article Helped?
In Their Own Words…
Our culture is already changing all around us:
Sources of the change in the fire service:
“ New blood”
Changing customs and social mores
Science and knowledge
Fire Service Culture: present day
Training is better
Apparatus is better
PPE’s are better
We are more informed about the hazards
We still don’t wear our seat belts at all times while moving
We STILL don’t wear SCBA’s in all IDLH environments
While PPE’s (turnouts, gloves, hoods, helmets) are far better, we STILL don’t wear them (full turnouts, gloves, hoods)
We still don’t eat right, exercise enough, control stress, continue to use tobacco, and we don’t get medical evaluations.
Why Am I Here Today? I “pulled a Wilson” William Gibson Could You Go The Distance With “Iron Mike?”
PROTECTING YOURSELF FROM CANCER
Wear Your PPE’s!
Eat Healthy Foods
Don’t Use Tobacco
Take Minor Infections Seriously
Find Peace and Faith
The International Firefighter
Oregon brain cancer, colon cancer, stomach cancer, testicular cancer, prostate cancer, multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, cancer of the throat or mouth, rectal cancer, breast cancer or leukemia Rhode Island disabling occupational cancer which develops as a result of the inhalation of noxious fumes or poisonous gases South Dakota impairment of health caused by cancer Tennessee any impairment of health of such fire fighter caused by disease or cancer resulting in hospitalization, medical treatment or any disability Texas cancer that may be caused by exposure to heat, smoke, radiation, or a known or suspected carcinogen as determined by the IARC Vermont cancer limited to leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma, and cancers originating in the bladder, brain, colon, gastrointestinal tract, kidney, liver, pancreas, skin, or testicles. Virginia Leukemia or pancreatic, prostate, rectal, throat, ovarian or breast Washington brain cancer, malignant melanoma, leukemia, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, bladder cancer, ureter cancer, and kidney cancer Wisconsin skin, breasts, central nervous system or lymphatic, digestive, hematological, urinary, skeletal, oral or reproductive systems