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Firefighters raise awareness for occupational cancer

Cancer is the second leading cause of death for firefighters in the U.S.
Posted at 2:41 PM, Jan 09, 2024
and last updated 2024-01-09 15:41:57-05

COLLEGE STATION, Texas — January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month. Local firefighters use this time to check in with each other and raise awareness in the community about the health hazards they face in this job and the potentially deadly consequences.

  • Cancer is the second leading cause of death among firefighters in the U.S.
  • Firefighters are 9% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer and 14% more likely to die from cancer compared to the general population.
  • Fire departments take key preventative measures like limiting their exposure to carcinogens, washing them off when they are exposed, and using upgraded equipment and technology to limit their exposure to harmful gases.


January marks a lot of new beginnings, but for many of our first responders, it's a much more sobering time: Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month.

Battling blazes, beating the heat and sacrificing daily.

“They get up in the middle of the night, they get up from their Christmas table, they get up from the birthday party and they come to something like this…*alarm goes off* Here we go,” said John Adams, fire chief for the Centerville Volunteer Fire Department.

But some firefighters sacrifice even more.

“We have had firefighters who have had cancer and fought it and beat it also had firefighters who died because of occupational cancer. It's very sad.”

Stuart Marrs with the College Station Fire Department said firefighter cancer awareness month is a time to keep each other accountable and raise awareness in the community.

“This generation of firefighters is very aware of the risk of firefighter cancer, and we're taking a lot of a lot more steps in everything. That we do to limit our exposure,” Marrs said.

According to the Firefighter Cancer Alliance, cancer is the second leading cause of death for firefighters in the U.S. and according to the CDC, firefighters have both a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population.

That's why Marrs said they take precaution seriously:

“Taking steps to limit our exposure to those carcinogens, those harmful gasses that we encounter every day on the job and making sure that when we are exposed to them, we record that we were exposed and we take steps to get that washed off of our bodies and get it out of our systems. That includes keeping our gear very clean, keeping our trucks very clean and keeping our fire stations very clean.”

Marrs said it's important the community understands when they need funding to upgrade their equipment, it's also an investment in their health.