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Engine Exhaust Removal System
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provider (ISP), and the crews are issued fresh hoods. This allows
for accountability in that all hoods were washed in advance and
members are issued clean hoods at the point of contact.
Additionally, as part of a “Firefighter Protective Hood
Replacement and Carcinogen Mitigation Strategies” standard
operating guideline (SOG), firefighters had been provided with
body cleansing wipes to immediately decontaminate skin and
areas of high absorption on the scene prior to showering. Messaging within each fire station also played an important role in
reinforcing cultural expectations and served as a reminder of
these expectations and accountability at each house.
The Firefighter Cancer Initiative—Sylvester
Comprehensive Cancer Center at UM
During approximately this same period, with an inception
date of January 2014, a specialized firefighter cancer prevention
team formed within Palm Beach County Fire Rescue (PBCFR),
a sizeable fire department organization that serves a population
close to 900,000 through 49 fire stations and approximately
1,500 operations personnel. This team, named FACE (
Firefighters Attacking the Cancer Epidemic), was formed because
of growing concerns about the number of personnel who had
been diagnosed with cancer.
By the end of the year, through a strong connection with
the Florida chapter of the FCSN, a partnership had developed
between Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center (SCCC) at the
University of Miami and PBCFR’s FACE Team. This newly formed
alliance was the beginning of a later, much larger collaboration
and research initiative between SCCC and the Florida fire service.
Through the support of a state of Florida appropriation, the Firefighter Cancer Initiative (FCI) was launched in 2015 to study firefighters’ exposure to carcinogens; their risks for developing cancer; and methods of education for prevention, screening, and early
detection. Since then, researchers have been working closely with
PBCFR, Miami-Dade Fire Rescue, and BCSDFR and branching
into additional fire departments on various projects to learn more
about these critical issues and to identify improved measures to
reduce risk. The research team managing the expanding study
includes faculty and staff from SCCC and the University of Miami
Miller School of Medicine, School of Communication, and School
of Education and Human Development.
In its first year, more than 1,600 active firefighters throughout
South Florida’s tri-county area completed the FCI’s annual cancer survey, a comprehensive questionnaire collecting medical/
cancer history and occupational risk factors related to firefighters. Firefighters were also engaged in cervical and colorectal
cancer screening, environmental sampling projects, and an
educational campaign to increase awareness about prevention
and early detection.
Now in its second year, the FCI is expanding its scope to include additional projects, such as a longitudinal study focused
on retired firefighters and the study of a wellness program for
improving measures of fitness, health, and cancer risks. The
project will also be expanding to include additional fire departments throughout the state of Florida.
The very first Florida firefighter surveyed and studied under
the FCI initiative was a PBCFR firefighter in December 2015. As