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 combatting and preventing cancer, but more still needs to be done. The time is NOW to make changes.
Keeping firefighters healthy and safe
“We call upon fire service leaders and all personnel to make cancer prevention a priority in your department,” said Chief James Seavey, Sr., chair of the VCOS cancer committee, co-chair of the NVFC cancer subcommittee, 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. There are many relatively cost-effective actions that can be taken to reduce the risks.
Reducing the risks and exposure to cancer
“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 Chief Kevin D. Quinn, chair of the NVFC, would like to thank the committee that worked diligently to put this report together. They challenge those in the fire service, whether a chief, chief officer, or firefighter, to educate your membership by disseminating the report and displaying the poster in your departments.
A special thank you and appreciation to the sponsors of the Lavender Ribbon Report for making the creation of this crucial report possible. This report is dedicated to those responders that are battling or have lost their battle with cancer.