“We are not making this up,” IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger said. “The connection between firefighting and cancer is real, and there is scientific data to support our position.” (Taking Action Against Cancer in the Fire Service)
I recently received some photos on my phone from a buddy after an apartment fire he had. His picture showed multiple companies operating on the exterior of the structure, smoke billowing out…and not a single guy was wearing his mask. Another photo was of him and another member of his truck crew with soot and grime all over their face. He was in a great mood, and legitimately so. Fighting fire is fun for him. He thoroughly enjoys it. He has been fighting fires in a very large city department for 15 years. And he still loves fighting fire. So here I come and ruin his day. My response: “Stop rolling around in that s*** and get your mask on.” I’m talking to him about Arsenic inhalation, dermal absorption of Dioxins and PBDEs, Benzene in diesel exhaust, etc. I tell him about the studies showing how exposures to multiple toxins through multiple routes of exposure are compounding the harmful effects inside our bodies. (Do You Know What’s Burning?)
His response: “Damn you. I was having a good day…”
I wasn’t trying to take away the satisfaction and pride he felt in doing his job. Hell…who doesn’t feel it? It’s a source of tremendous pride. You’re doing the job you got hired to do. And it feels good. It’s a badge of honor. But here’s the takeaway point: that soot on your face and that dirty, sweaty hood still hanging around your neck? We can no longer view those as a badge of honor. Those are red flags. Those are the practices that are producing the alarming results the studies are now showing. There are plenty of things to hang your hat on and feel good about after a fire, but let’s stop using the ones that are causing cancers and other life-altering diseases.
I have talked quite a bit with my buddy about toxic exposures we face on the job…it’s no secret to him what we are trying to do here at Prehab Nutrition: we are trying to promote health and longevity for our Brothers and Sisters. Period. Sometimes that means smacking them upside the head with some sobering information. It’s time we start paying attention to the message and increasing awareness about what these toxic exposures mean to us, and more importantly, what we can do to protect ourselves.
Next up: “Cancer in the Fire Service”