Duluth working to protect fire fighters from cancer-causing substances

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Any given house fire in the northland can produce deadly fumes. Carbon monoxide, cyanide, ammonia and many more lethal gases and our local firefighters are exposed every time they are called to a fire.

According to the international association of fire fighters 75 percent of names added to their memorial wall in 2022 died from occupational cancer. Here in Duluth officials are providing information that will help reduce that frightening statistic as January is the national fire fighter cancer awareness

The Duluth fire chief, Shawn Krizaj gave insight on what the awareness is all about.

” what it’s about really is to bring education to both firefighters and the public on the hazards that we face every day. Obviously, not just in January, but for specifically in this case for cancer. Firefighters generally have a higher risk of cancer than the general public. And then of course, it’s also then to educate the public on some of the things that we do. We’re asking at times for special legislation, sometimes special funding for different things. And of course, those are taxpayer dollars. And so that’s to educate the public on why we need it, why it’s important to us, and what the risks are specifically to firefighters really have to.”

He also highlight measures that has been put in place by the Duluth fire department in other to prevent exposure to cancer causing agents. One of them being the ”cancer prevention compartment”. He said the compartment was designed specifically that after a fire, dirty gears are put in it and closed off from the rest of the cab in the fire truck.

”we have a lot of support in place for firefighters, specifically for cancer. And then, of course, any other reasons, with the city of Duluth, we have our employee assistance program, EAP. Minnesota recently enacted what was called the Hometown Heroes Act that actually can give $20,000 per firefighter depending on what what their needs are.”

For those already diagnosed with cancer in the department, he says adequate support is also been provided for them.

Cancer is the leading cause of death among firefighters. When we all know more about the toxic plumes firefighter work in, it is hoped that more will be done to protect these first responders.