Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers: Firefighters Face Hidden HazardsMarch 29, 2017
Every day, volunteer and professional firefighters and other public safety workers put their lives on the line to protect their fellow citizens who are in danger of being seriously injured or killed in a fire. They do it without question or hesitation, because risking their own life to save someone else is part of the job that they love. Unfortunately, in addition to the obvious risks that come with putting out fires, these brave men and women are also exposed to a range of chemicals and hazardous fumes, which can cause certain types of cancer. As a result, many firefighters who have been diagnosed with various types of cancer are working hard to advocate for improved Workers’ Compensation benefits that would cover the costs associated with their illness.
Many states’ Workers’ Compensation plans have expanded their coverage for such cases; but others have been resistant, questioning whether the cancer was actually caused by occupational exposure rather than other factors like family history or lifestyle. Sadly, there is a great deal of evidence to the contrary, including a Washington, D.C. firefighter who had been diagnosed with prostate cancer three separate times. He firmly believes that the cancer was caused by fumes and chemicals that absorbed into his skin and lungs over his 20-year career fighting fires.
In February of 2017, a bill to create a national registry of firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer was introduced in an effort to conduct further research into the issue. In October, for the first time since 1992, the National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation honored line-of-duty deaths to those who died of cancer. Cancer studies related to firefighters increased dramatically after the September 11 terrorist attacks, after so many first responders developed serious health issues.
Results of Landmark Study
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention conducted the largest study of cancer risk among firefighters that has ever been done in the United States. Researchers analyzed approximately 30,000 firefighters over a period of 60 years. They found that firefighters were at a higher risk for developing leukemia, oral, digestive, respiratory, lung, genital, and urinary cancers, compared to the general population.
The following risk factors contribute to the higher incidence of cancer in firefighters:
- Inhaling soot and smoke from toxic synthetic materials and electronics
- Exhaust fumes from diesel fire engines are hazardous when inhaled
- The protective gear that protects firefighters also raises the body temperature, which opens pores, allowing chemicals to be absorbed by the skin more easily
- Smoke and soot on helmets and other gear can be inhaled if it is not properly cleaned off
Protective steps firefighters can take to reduce their risk of getting cancer include:
- Obtain second set of gear so that firefighters always have clean, fresh gear available
- Keep protective breathing gear on even after the flames are put out, as there may still be leftover hot spots
- Wipe down the skin with baby wipes to get rid of any soot or other hazardous material that is on the skin
Baltimore Workers’ Compensation Lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton Represent Firefighters Suffering from Cancer
If you are a firefighter and you have been diagnosed with cancer which you believe was a result of on-the-job exposure to hazardous fumes, contact the Baltimore Workers’ Compensation lawyers at LeViness, Tolzman & Hamilton. We will see to it that you receive the full benefits that you deserve. To schedule a free consultation, call us at 844-556-4LAW (4529) or contact us online.