Developing a Cancer Prevention Program

Technical BulletinLast updated Saturday, September 1, 2001
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This research project analyzed the association between the fire fighting occupation and the resulting exposure to cancer-causing agents. The problem was the Arlington County Fire Department (ACFD) lacked a comprehensive, up-to-date policy focused on minimizing firefighter exposure to carcinogens within the work environment. The purpose of the project was to recommend a comprehensive cancer prevention program through adoption of a departmental Standard Operating Procedure (SOP). This research employed both historical and action research methods to (a) determine the extent to which carcinogens are present in the line of duty; (b) examine current work practices which unnecessarily expose firefighters to carcinogens; and (c) modify work practices to minimize the resulting health risks to firefighters.Principle procedures employed were (a) a review of the literature written around the topics of cancer and firefighting and (b) an analysis of potential work changes that decrease exposure to potential carcinogens. Results from this project showed that firefighters are routinely exposed to carcinogenic agents. Additionally, the literature identified and supported implementation of additional work practice changes. Accordingly, this project recommended (a) adopting a comprehensive cancer prevention SOP, (b) training all ACFD personnel with the SOP and relevant background material, (c) developing guidelines to report violations of the SOP, and (d) continuing to review the SOP to insure that cancer prevention remains a top ACFD priority.

Supplemental Resources


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Taking Action Against Cancer in the Fire Service

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Investigation of Cancer Among Firefighters in Anne Arundel County

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Protect Yourself from Cancer

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Firefighter Cancer Support Network website

Provides assistance and 1-on-1 mentoring to cancer-stricken firefighters


Reducing Known Risk of Cancer in Firefighters

Report providing suggestions to reduce Risk of Cancer

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