Articles, Blog

Tucson Fire and The University of Arizona: Preventing Cancer in the Fire Service

Hello my name is Jeff Burgess. I’m the
principal investigator on the study that the University of Arizona Men and Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health is doing with Tucson Fire Department and I
wanted to thank you for all the work that you’ve done so far in helping us to
find ways of preventing cancer among firefighters. Tucson Fire Department is
really in the vanguard of this movement in terms of looking and
actually measuring ways of reducing exposures. So far we’ve
completed the work looking at all the exposures that you guys have had by
measuring the concentration of some chemicals in your urine before and after
the fire. So you know these interventions they include the wash down, the clean cab,
and having the engineers on air. We’ve been looking so far at the initial
effectiveness of these interventions and they’re looking really good, they’re
looking effective but we’re not done yet. We have to finish the work and it’s
really important to finish this project strong and to be able to demonstrate
that these interventions are truly effective. So the other part of the study beyond
the exposure reduction is the study where we’ve been collecting blood on
both incumbent firefighters and new recruits and that study has been really
important because we’ve identified some ways through which the exposures that
you get as firefighters can lead to an increased risk of cancer. So those are
the epigenetic markers that perhaps you’ve heard about. Well this
again is groundbreaking work no one’s been able to to do this before and these
same markers have been so successful. To date in terms of identifying ways again
in which the exposures can lead to an increased risk of cancer that we’re
doing those in other cities as well. Other cities and fire departments
are joining our process, it’s called the Firefighter Cancer Cohort Study that
we’ve started here. Those fire departments include places such as
Boston, Palm Beach County, we’ll be bringing Los Angeles County on board
here soon. Indianapolis is also starting. So we’ve
really put something in motion that will help firefighters greatly over the years
to help us understand again what’s causing cancer and ways to reduce it and
also hopefully helping firefighters with workers compensation cases as well
eventually. I’ve really appreciated the opportunity to work with such a great
organization as Tucson Fire Department. It’s been just an honor to be able to
work with you. You should be proud of what you’ve done so far of being able to
show the effectiveness of the interventions that you’ve been
working on and been doing at the fire ground. We need to keep going strong.
We’re close to finishing up and then we can share the great
information of the things that you’ve done and how effective they are with
fire departments again throughout the country and throughout the world. Hello. Chief Joe Gulotta with the Tucson Fire Department. I am extremely proud of the
work our firefighters have done in the firefighter cancer study. This would not
have been possible without the commitment of our personnel, the Tucson
Firefighters Association Local 479 and our partnership at the University of
Arizona. The research and data are showing that we can reduce the risk of
exposure to cancer-causing toxins on the fire ground. These interventions are
showing a decrease in our exposure. It is working. We have accomplished much in the last four yearsM moving forward I want to encourage every member to continue to
focus on cancer prevention. Look out for your fellow firefighters and be diligent
in your effort to minimize your fire ground exposurF. from the most junior
firefighter to the most senior captain or chief officer, I want to thank each
and every one of you for what you have done to this point. The work is not over.
I urge all of you to continue using these interventions in our fight against
cancer. We are making a difference. Thank you, be safe.

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