Fire Service Occupational Cancer Alliance Update and Reports

Action Items

In early 2016, the FSOCA developed a comprehensive action plan to address fire service occupational cancer at the national level. In March 2018, the Steering Committee for the Alliance convened to review progress and evaluate and update these 2016 recommendations.

In addition to existing goals, the FSOCA’s action plan identified additional goals in the following five areas:

Identify potential steps related to research gaps and funding.

  1. Hold a scientific symposium focused on overall research and where redundancies and gaps exist.
  2. Expand scope of knowledge related to work being done internationally, especially in Scandinavia, in Belgium and at the International Agency for Research on Cancer.
  3. Wildland and wildland-urban interface firefighting present unique challenges and separate research needs to be completed to focus attention on these specific challenges, such as:
    • tracking and reporting
    • studying exposures
    • identifying ways to intervene
    • development of a media campaign
    • funding issues

Identify potential steps related to prevention and training efforts, including a discussion of model policies.

  1. Expand cancer prevention awareness programs to include:
    • awareness training for fire investigators
    • exposure risks at training academies
    • contamination control at training academies
  2. Update Cancer Toolkit to include:
  3. Focus efforts toward smaller and volunteer departments to increase awareness and provide training.
  4. Continue to explain the efficacy and necessity for early cancer screening in firefighters.
  5. Expand the dissemination of information after the diagnosis resources available from The Firefighter Cancer Support Network and undertake efforts to provide assistance to medium and small departments.
  6. Expand dissemination of information from original Cancer Symposium through regional training opportunities.
  7. Look to schedule a subsequent Symposium.
  8. Develop a Symptom Guide or Alarm poster for cancer to hang in fire stations.
  9. Develop a Rules of Engagement for Cancer Prevention modeled after the Rules of Engagement for Structural Firefighting.
  10. Develop additional training resources for wildland fire fighters.

Identify potential steps to improve or expand presumptive legislation.

  1. Develop a report that local departments can present to municipal leaders and legislatures regarding the actual costs and effects of occupational cancer, so that presumptive laws can be created and amended to support more occupational cancer diagnoses.
  2. Continue work supporting firefighters through the claims process including best practices for personal reporting; a document with concrete financial data to show actual costs to city managers, politicians and legislature occurrences but also save money.
  3. Develop model criteria that states can utilize for effective cancer legislation.

Identify potential steps for engaging other organizations as partners.

  1. Increased support by other organizations and entities is needed to provide more justification for firefighter occupational cancer being eligible for Public Safety Officers’ Benefits. Additionally, documents quantifying the actual costs of occupational cancer would support inclusion of cancer in PSOBs.
  2. Encourage NFPA to address contamination control in NFPA standards.

Identify potential steps to inclusion/recognition of cancer within line-of-duty death criteria.

  1. Create an advisory committee to develop national criteria for inclusion in the National Fallen Firefighters Memorial.
  2. Evaluate criteria being utilized for cancer line-of-duty deaths at the state level.