Firefighting and Cancer

The Impact of Wildfires and Firefighting on Front Line Workers

Over the last few years, wildfires have emerged as a growing concern affecting not only the environment but also the health and safety of all Canadians. As the frequency and intensity of wildfires increase, so does the urgency of addressing the risks faced by the brave men and women on the front lines of firefighting.

Firefighting is among a select few professions that the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) classifies as a Group 1 carcinogen. This classification reflects the sobering reality that firefighters are exposed to a myriad of hazardous substances and conditions while performing their duties. Before they even face the flames, firefighters contend with circadian rhythm disruptions, which result from the irregular and demanding schedules of their profession. Exposure to diesel engine exhaust compounds these challenges, further compromising their health and well-being. However, the most concerning aspect of firefighting is the toxic cocktail of known carcinogens that firefighters regularly encounter in the line of duty. These substances include, but are not limited to, hazardous materials, chemicals, and particulate matter produced during fires. The exposure to these carcinogens places firefighters at a significantly higher risk of developing cancer.

The link between firefighting and cancer is irrefutable. Firefighters courageously put their lives on the line to protect our communities, but in doing so, they also face a formidable enemy in the form of cancer.

Advocating for a Safer Future: Bill C-224

Much of our work revolves around supporting the implementation and expansion of Bill C-224, formally known as An Act to establish a national framework for the prevention and treatment of cancers linked to firefighting. This vital piece of legislation, championed by MP Sherry Romanado and Senator Hassan Yussuff, represents a significant step forward in addressing the pressing issues faced by firefighters and ensuring their well-being. Bill C-224 embodies our commitment to safeguarding the health and safety of those who selflessly protect our communities from the devastating impact of fires. It serves as a beacon of hope for firefighters and their families across the nation.

Our work involves advocating tirelessly for the effective implementation of this legislation at both the federal and provincial levels. We firmly believe that by championing this bill and its associated initiatives, we can make a significant difference in the lives of firefighters. Our goal is to reduce the incidence of cancer among these heroes, mitigate the impact of occupational hazards, and improve access to treatment and support for those affected.

Additional Resources

Recent Updates

Rising Wildfires, Rising Injustice: The Battle for Fair Compensation for Firefighters

In a startling revelation, forest and wildland firefighters across the country find themselves not only battling rampant wildfires but also an unjust system that denies them fair access to compensation in cases of job-related cancer diagnoses. In 2022, wildfires scorched 1,379,632 hectares of Canadian land. However, the situation took a dramatic turn in 2023, with wildfires engulfing a staggering 16,441,400 hectares, representing an astonishing 1,091%

Cancer Can’t Wait: Governments from across Canada should expedite the implementation of a new cancer framework for Canadian firefighters

New federal legislation aims to protect firefighters from cancer. OTTAWA, ON, Sept. 5, 2023 /CNW/ – The Canadian Cancer Survivor Network (CCSN) is urging governments across the nation to make good on their promise to protect firefighters from cancer. “As we’ve said before, Cancer Can’t Wait,” says CCSN President & CEO Jackie Manthorne. “During COVID-19 we witnessed the interruption of cancer care delivery to patients.

New Legislation Aims to Tackle Firefighter Cancer

( Left to Right: Nir Hagigi, CCSN Public Policy Analyst; Senator Hassan Yussuff; Lindsay Timm, CCSN Community Engagement Manager; Gabriel McDonald, CCSN Social Policy Researcher ) We have discussed before about the dangers of Firefighting as a profession, and now the federal government is helping mitigate those risks. On June 22nd, Bill C-224 received royal assent and was put into law. The bill is called

Ontario Expanding Cancer Coverage for Firefighters

The following is a press release from the Government of Ontario. TORONTO — The Ontario government is working for workers by expanding cancer coverage for firefighters. These changes will make it faster and easier for these heroes and their families to access the compensation and supports they deserve for thyroid and pancreatic cancers from the Workplace Safety and Insurance Board (WSIB). “In every community, firefighters

Fighting Fires Equals Fighting Cancer

It’s no secret that firefighting is a dangerous job. Each year dozens of names are added to the Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial run by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF). Between 2019 and 2020, 469 firefighters were added to the wall in Colorado Springs. But while most would have the idea that firefighters made that sacrifice in burning buildings, the truth is much more