What long-term risks do firefighters face?

As a firefighter, you assume a certain level of immediate risk, but recent studies indicate firefighters across Alabama and the United States also face long-term health issues, some of which differ broadly from those faced by firefighters of yesterday. Per Fox 6, the Hoover, Alabama, fire department is among those modifying certain procedures with the hope that doing so will reduce the number of job-related health complications its workers face.

According to one recent National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety study, you are, as a firefighter, almost 15 percent more likely than the rest of the American population to die from cancer. Part of the blame, per one Hoover firefighter, can be attributed to the fact that homes burning today have a multitude of toxins, synthetics and other carcinogens inside, all of which are released into the air during fires.

You also face an increased risk of suicide because of your firefighting career, according to a separate study conducted at Florida State University. About a fifth of all firefighters who took part in the study admitted to attempting suicide, and almost half of those surveyed reported they had experienced suicidal thoughts. Post-traumatic stress disorder has also been linked to firefighting, according to physicians and researchers in Austin, Texas.

To help combat these problems locally, the Hoover Fire Department requires that its firefighters undergo cancer screenings and physicals annually. Firefighters within the department also wash their protective gear and themselves promptly and thoroughly after every house fire. The department, too, is modifying how it attacks the fires themselves in an effort to make homes safer for firefighter entry.

This information about long-term firefighter health risks is meant to inform you, but it is not intended to be taken as legal advice. 

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