Lavender Ribbon Report: Best Practices for Preventing Firefighter Cancer Released

Dallas, Texas – The International Association of Fire Chiefs’ (IAFC) Volunteer and Combination Officers Section (VCOS) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have partnered to develop and release the Lavender Ribbon Report: Best Practices for Preventing Firefighter Cancer. This report provides 11 actions that can be taken to mitigate the risk of cancer for firefighters.

Unfortunately, the topic of firefighter cancer has had a significantly increasing impact on firefighter health and welfare. Great strides have been made by departments and responders everywhere in combating and preventing cancer, but more still needs to be done. The time is NOW to make changes.

“We call upon fire service leaders and all personnel to make cancer prevention a priority in your department,” said Chief James Seavey, Sr. board member of the IAFC VCOS, chair of the VCOS Cancer committee, and cancer survivor. “We owe it to each firefighter, to their families, and to the community to take every step necessary to keep our firefighters healthy and to ensure they come home safely. Together we can stop firefighter occupational cancer.”

It is imperative that local leaders take this report to heart and spend the time and energy to make changes to improve the safety and health of responders. Too often, we hear about firefighters suffering from and dying of cancer. What if things had been differently and personal protective equipment (PPE) was washed thoroughly and stored it in a better way? There are many relatively cost-effective actions that can be taken to reduce the risk.

“Firefighters are contracting cancer at an alarming rate, and we need to take action to protect our brothers and sisters,” said Chief Brian McQueen, co-chair of the NVFC Cancer Subcommittee and cancer survivor. “Fortunately, there are specific things we can do to lessen our risks and prevent exposure. The NVFC and IAFC’s VCOS strongly encourage you to read and implement these best practices in your department immediately and ensure all firefighters are adhering to them.”

Fire Chief Timothy Wall, chair of the VCOS, and Fire Chief Kevin D. Quinn, chair of the NVFC, thanks committee members who worked diligently to put this report together. The chiefs challenge fire service leaders and firefighters to educate their membership by disseminating the report and displaying the poster in their departments.

A special thank you and appreciation to our sponsors for the Lavender Ribbon Report for making the creation of this crucial report possible.

This report, released at Fire-Rescue International in Dallas, Texas, is dedicated to those responders that are battling or have lost their battle with cancer. Thank you for taking the time to read the Lavender Ribbon Report.

For more information about VCOS, visit vcos.org. For more information about the NVFC, visit nvfc.org. For additional cancer resources, go to firefightercanceralliance.org.

About the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC)
The IAFC represents the leadership of firefighters and emergency responders worldwide. IAFC members are the world's leading experts in firefighting, emergency medical services, terrorism response, hazardous materials spills, natural disasters, search and rescue, and public safety legislation. Since 1873, the IAFC has provided a forum for its members to exchange ideas, develop professionally and uncover the latest products and services available to first responders. Learn more
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