past few years, I never thought I’d become
a card-carrying member. I called Tony C.,
the New York representative, and asked
him to connect me with a brother who had
the same surgery. I got a call in 24 hours
and spoke to a brother who told me his
story. I felt like I knew him my entire life.
Peer support is key in any crisis. Especially
FIREFIGHTER peer support.
Main takeaway: Get checked, get tested, don’t
put it off, don’t be a macho dope, and get your
blood work done whether the department sends
you or not, career or volunteer. Support the
FCSN because you never know.
Be well, stay well, be safe,
Final comment from Nozzlehead:
So, to answer the headline question: Cancer
Schmancer ... Can We Please Talk About Some-
thing Else? No. Not at all.
We CANNOT talk about something else.
CANCER is not an “old firefighter” disease. We
are seeing YOUNG firefighters in their 20s and 30s
being diagnosed—many surviving, some not surviving. Young, vibrant, gung-ho. Firefighting-loving
So, in plain English from Ronnie and I to you:
Don’t breathe that crap* (*soot, dirt, anything
you get on you at a fire) and treat that crap when
it’s on you or your gear as if it is some real nasty,
highly toxic, hazmat stuff that will eat away at you.
Because odds are it will.
In addition, here are some “checklist” items for
you. None of this is new, but perhaps if we keep
this “cancer schmancer” stuff out there enough times
for you to actually read it you may actually pay
attention to it—and take action.
Love being a firefighter? Good. Do whatever it
takes so that your health ALLOWS you to keep
doing what you love. The FCSN offers the following suggestions specifically around firefighters:
Chiefs: Make it your department POLICY with
consequences for failure to do so. Yeah. Really. Save
some of your firefighters from themselves.
Fire officers: You CAN change your little corner
of the world, your firehouse, when you are there.
Make the below THE WAY you operate. Over
time, the members won’t think twice about doing
Firefighters: Just do it. Trust us and trust the
memories of those who wish they were still alive.
Fire photographers: Wait. What!? Fire photographers? Yeah, fire photographers. Instead of taking
photos of firefighters covered in crap, soot, and
all the precancer stuff, try this: Carry fire type
cleansing wipes in your camera bag and, before
taking their picture, have them wipe the crap off.
Do them a favor. Help save a life. THEN take their
picture with the filthy wipes in the picture, showing what was on them and what YOU did to help
the firefighters. They and their family will thank
you. I promise.
Of course, you’ve seen this before. Now read it
and apply it.
1. Use a self-contained breathing apparatus
(SCBA) from initial attack to finish of overhaul. (Not wearing SCBA in both active and
postfire environments is the most dangerous
voluntary activity in the fire service today.)
2. Do gross field decon of personal protective
equipment (PPE) to remove as much soot and
particulates as possible.
3. Use carcinogen-removing wipes to remove as
much soot as possible from head, neck, jaw,
throat, underarms, and your hands while still
on the scene.
4. Change your clothes and wash them immedi-
ately after a fire.
5. Shower thoroughly after a fire.
6. Clean your PPE, gloves, hood, and helmet
immediately after a fire.
7. Do not take contaminated clothes or PPE
home or store it in your personal vehicle.
8. Decon all applicable fire and support apparatus
interiors after fires.
9. Keep bunker gear out of firehouse living and
10. Stop using tobacco products.
11. Use sunscreen or sunblock.
Let Nozzlehead hear all about it.
He’ll answer you with 2,000 psi
of free-flowing opinion.
Send your letters to:
Nozzlehead, c/o FireRescue
21-00 Route 208 South
Fair Lawn, NJ 07410
Attn: Diane Rothschild
Got a fire service
question or complaint?
Love being a firefighter? Good. Do whatever
it takes so that your health ALLOWS
you to keep doing what you love.