NM firefighters form cancer prevention committee
A firefighters' union launched a health and safety committee to tackle issues such as cancer and other health concerns firefighters face on the job
By FireRescue1 Staff
SANTA FE COUNTY, N.M. — A firefighters' union is working to combat work-related cancer by forming a committee to figure out how to prevent it.
KRQE reported that IAFF Local 4366 created a health and safety committee to try and increase on-the-job cancer prevention and tackle other work-related health issues.
"Our big risk we're taking is actually the long terms effects on us rather than the short term of actually getting hurt in the process of firefighting," SFCFD firefighter Sal Caputo said.
Union president Eutimio Ortiz said the time has come to lose the “badge of honor mentality” when it comes to firefighter gear.
"I look at my helmet and it's charred and burned and melted. It's pride that you've made it through structure fires and helped save lives and property,” he said. "If we have firefighters who are dying of occupational cancer and we're losing tenured people, we're not having that experience in the field to take care of the community.”
Ortiz said the committee will first work to implement on-scene decontamination practices and appeal to county officials to get funding for extra gear.
"What we really need are the extra hoods, the extra bunker coat and turnout pants," he said. "The issue is we can't have soaking wet gear mid shift.”
Ortiz said the committee will also work toward creating a firefighter fitness program.