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Cancer Prevention Resources

The VCOS is working to provide fire departments with the tools and resources they need to make a cultural shift to ensure the prevention of firefighter cancer. Below you will find information, statistics and resources on the 11 best practices to prevent firefighter cancer.


The Lavender Ribbon Report Update: Best Practices for Preventing Firefighter Cancer - September 2021

The International Association of Fire Chiefs’ Volunteer and Combination Officers Section (VCOS) and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) have released an update to the Lavender Ribbon Report that provides 11 best practices for reducing exposure risks and preventing occupationally caused cancer in firefighters. The new Lavender Ribbon Report Update includes additional information, essays, articles, research, and ideas for successfully implementing the best practices.

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The Lavender Ribbon Report: Best Practices for Preventing Firefighter Cancer

The VCOS and the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) are proud to release this important report focused on providing actions to reduce the risk factors of cancer in the fire service. Unfortunately, this topic has had a significantly increasing impact on firefighter health and welfare. We have started to see great strides by departments and responders everywhere in combatting and preventing cancer, but more still needs to be done. The time is NOW to make changes. 

Download the Report


11 Best Practices for Preventing Cancer


The VCOS and the NVFC, along with the Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance, the Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN), and with support from California Casualty, have developed a poster of the 11 best practices for preventing firefighter cancer. The poster provides all fire department leaders and firefighting personnel with specific actions that must be taken to address the cancer epidemic and protect firefighters.

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Best Practice One Poster


Full protective equipment (PPE) must be worn throughout the entire incident, including SCBA during salvage and overhaul.

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Best Practice Two Poster


A second hood should be provided to all entry-certified personnel in the department.

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Best Practice Three Poster

Best Practice 3 Poster

Following exit from the IDLH, and while still on air, you should begin immediate gross decon of PPE using soap water and a brush, if weather conditions allow. PPE should then be placed into a sealed plastic bag and placed in an exterior compartment of the rig, or if responding in POVs, placed in a large storage tote, thus keeping the off-gassing PPE away from passengers and self.

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Best Practice Four Poster

Best Practice 4 Poster

After completion of gross decon procedures, and while still on scene, the exposed areas of the body (neck, face, arms and hands) should be wiped off immediately using wipes, which must be carried on all apparatus. Use the wipes to remove as much soot as possible from head, neck, jaw, throat, underarms and hands immediately.

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Best Practice Five Poster


Change your clothes and wash them after exposure to products of combustion or other contaminants. Do this as soon as possible and/or isolate in a trash bag until washing is available.

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Best Practice Six Poster


Shower as soon as possible after being exposed to products of combustion or other contaminants. “Shower within the Hour”.

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Best Practice Seven Poster


PPE, especially turnout pants, must be prohibited in areas outside the apparatus floor (i.e. kitchen, sleeping areas, etc.) and never in the household.

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Best Practice Eight Poster


Wipes, or soap and water, should also be used to decontaminate and clean apparatus seats, SCBA and interior crew area regularly, especially after incidents where personnel were exposed to products of combustion.

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Best Practice Nine Poster


Get an annual physical, as early detection is the key to survival. The NVFC outlines several options at www.nvfc.org. “A Healthcare Provider’s Guide to Firefighter Physicals” can be downloaded from www.fstaresearch.org/resource/?FstarId=11591.

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Best Practice Ten Poster


Tobacco products of any variety, including dip and e-cigarettes should never be used at anytime on or off duty.

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Best Practice Eleven Poster


Fully document ALL fire or chemical exposures on incident reports and personal exposure reports.

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Want all of the individual posters?

Download All 11 Individual Posters


Surviving the Job

The purpose of this webinar is to provide real world advice and examples of how to implement change at your department using the VCOS & NVFC Lavender Ribbon Report. We focused on gross decon and what alternatives are available to meet the needs of every department, regardless of size and budget. Participants learned tips to encourage and enforce personal responsibility for cancer prevention. Presenters reviewed efforts in 2018 and share details about more training opportunities in 2019.

Watch the Webinar


Additional Resources

A Healthcare Provider's Guide to Firefighter Physicals

This free Healthcare Provider's Guide to Firefighter Physicals is available for you to bring to your physician to help them understand the physiological demands of firefighting and the resulting health risks research shows firefighters are most prone to. The guide assists primary care providers in the evaluation, treatment and ongoing surveillance of the unique health and wellness needs of firefighters. Its medical recommendations are research-supported and experience-driven.

Download the Guide

  • Topics:
    • Featured Volunteer
    • Volunteer
    • Section VCOS
    • Safety & Health
    • Health
  • Resource Type:
    • Guide/ toolkit/ template
    • Reference
  • Organizational Author:
    • Volunteer Combination Officers Section

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