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SEDONA, Ariz. — It had been eight months since Travis Powell was diagnosed with Chronic Lymphatic Leukemia, a cancer of the blood, when he got a call. The woman on the other end of the line asked him if he was sitting down. After months of waiting, Powell was told that his worker’s compensation benefits claim had been approved.
The largest provider of worker’s compensation insurance in the state had essentially affirmed that Powell's cancer had indeed been caused by the almost 20 years he has spent fighting fires for the Sedona and Chino Valley fire districts.
His case puts a clear and undeniable face to a growing body of research uncovering the ties between firefighters and heightened cancer risk. An oft-cited 2013 study by the Centers for Disease Control found that firefighters are more likely to develop respiratory, digestive and urinary system cancers and had rates of mesothelioma, cancer that affects organ linings, two times greater than the overall population.
Full story: Cancer risk hits firefighters harder.
While multiple studies in the United States and abroad have shown the correlation to firefighting and the increase occurrences of cancer, it will take a change in culture to stem the tide.
Getting responders to take preventative measures to protect themselves and their loved ones sounds like a no-brainer, but fire service leaders understand it’s not that easy.
U.S. Fire Administrator Ernie Mitchell said it distresses him to see cancer claiming so many firefighters.
“Firefighters face many hazards in the line of duty. What do we do about it?” Mitchell asked fire officials this week at a strategy meeting in the nation’s capital.
It saddens him to attend the funerals of fellow firefighters stricken with the disease. Read the entire article here.
The Michigan Legislature recently passed legislation that will go into effect January 1, 2015, that establishes a fund to cover the cost of treatment and lost wages for Fire Fighters who are diagnosed with certain types of cancers and Governor Rick Snyder is supposed to sign this into law quickly.
Currently, Fire Fighters who are diagnosed with cancer are not covered under workers compensation unless they can unequivocally determine that the cancer they have came from an on-the-job exposure during an a particular incident.
The new bill passed by the Legislature establishes the "First Responders Presumed Coverage Reimbursement Fund" which will reimburse Fire Fighters for the cost of their treatments as well as lost wages. This fund will cover 10 different types of cancers: respiratory, tract, bladder, skin, brain, kidney, blood, testicular, prostrate thyroid and lymphatic cancers. Read more by clicking here.
New study links firefighters, increased risk for cancer
CHARLESTON, S.C. (WCIV) — They do what most would never dare — rush into burning buildings saving lives and homes. But many firefighters are now dying from something that stays with them long after the flames are out.
“The tumor was larger than a baseball,” said Goose Creek Fire Chief Steve Chapman.
Chief Chapman was diagnosed with cancer five years ago. Sharp stomach pains sent him to the doctor. A biopsy revealed the bitter truth. He had colon cancer, one of the leading killers of men. Read the entire article by clicking here.
Kathy Crosby Bell, the mother of Michael Kennedy, a Boston Firefighter who lost his life at the Back Back fire in early 2014 testified before a City Council hearing on Firefighter Safety measures that includes installing Washing Machines in all 34 Engine Houses in Boston. This would be a very important step in reducing carcinogens that are left in the turnout gear of firefighters after an incident and contributes to cancer in firefighters. Read the entire article by clicking here.