International Association of Firefighters reports, cancer is now the leading cause of death among firefighters.

Every month the fire departments on the Iron Range take turns hosting Regional Fire Training but Wednesday night's  training was the first of its kind.

"Tonight's class is on Cancer awareness," said Capt. Dustin Erickson of the Virginia Fire Dept. 

According to the International Association of Firefighters, cancer is now the leading cause of death among firefighters.

In the past decade, more than 60% of the names added to the IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial have died from occupational cancer.

There isn't a national firefighter database yet to track the numbers, Congress is currently working on a bill but multiple studies show that it's the most dangerous under-recognized threat to firefighters' health. 

Now firefighters are urging their men and women to get educated and take the proper steps in a safe direction. 

"If you're not aware you cant change old habits," said Capt. Erickson.


Firefighters are typically covered with protective gear from head to toe, but Capt. Dustin Erickson says chemicals can and do get in.

"It's touching your skin through the smoke. Even though we are wearing gear it still penetrates through that and can get skin absorption."

Products and chemicals that are found in your home, in things like furniture. 

"We are using more things that have plastic and petroleum base and a lot of the flame retardants that help to kind of not spread fire have carcinogens in them and those are some of the worst things out there,"  said Capt. Erickson.


Firefighters are urged to shower as soon as they're done with their duty, use wipes to wipe down their skin and wash their uniform right away. 


The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017 has passed the house in Congress and will now be moving on to the Senate.

credit: Lyanne Valdez

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