In late April 2013, the Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN) invited a small group of experts to Indianapolis to develop a white paper on cancer in the fire service.
The participants came from the legal, medical- and social-research communities, and the fire service — including volunteer, combination and career departments and chief officers, firefighters, company officers, union leaders, and local and state fire training directors. Two firefighters who are cancer survivors participated, and every workshop participant knew firefighters who currently have cancer or who died as a result of cancer.
They willingly shared their knowledge, experience, commitment, and questions to better understand and describe the complexity of firefighter cancer awareness. The discussions addressed prevention, diagnosis, treatment and the long-term implications for the firefighter, the firefighter’s family, their coworkers, the fire department and community policy. Importantly, they also identified a series of actions that firefighters can take to reduce their exposure to chemicals that can cause or facilitate cancer.
In two-and-a-half days, the working group outlined and wrote the initial draft of a white paper describing the status of cancer in the fire service and developed answers to very challenging questions. This report is the result of that working group which was enhanced by the additional review of multiple career and volunteer operational fire companies, additional clinical researchers and medical physicians, other stakeholders and the leadership of the FCSN.