Last week the Millburn Fire Department, in partnership with Saint Barnabas Medical Center, hosted its second annual Health Clinic for Firefighters and First Responders as part of the 2019 Safety Stand Down Week.
The goal of the clinic is to help educate our firefighters to help prevent injury and death and to empower those firefighters and first responders to take their health seriously so they can continue to protect the public and still make it home to their families at the end of their shifts.
The clinic was open to all first responders in Millburn Township and the surrounding counties of Essex, Morris, Union, Hudson and Bergen. Health screens performed by Saint Barnabas Medical Center included stroke risk assessment, lung function, blood pressure, hearing, body composition and colon cancer. Educational resources were also available on site, including information on diabetes prevention and nutrition, the benefits of pet therapy and mental health care, and methods for burn prevention.
More information on Firefighter risk factors
- Firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general U.S. population, according to a study by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. The cancers mostly responsible for this higher risk were respiratory (lung, mesothelioma), GI (oral cavity, esophageal, large intestine), and kidney.
- Firefighters are exposed to potentially dangerous chemicals at all fires, including polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, polybrominated diphenyl ethers, hydrogen cyanide, carbon monoxide, benzene, toluene, and styrene.
- Firefighters are potentially exposed to higher levels of Organophosphate flame retardants than the general population due to dust collecting on turnout gear at fires. The dust is transferred to fire apparatus and fire stations when firefighters return from fire sites. Organophosphate flame retardants have raised great concern because many of them have been reported as suspected carcinogens, endocrine disrupters and reproductive toxicants.
- In addition to carcinogen exposure, firefighters are at risk for overheating due to the extreme conditions that they work in. With every 5 degree Fahrenheit skin temperature increase, a person’s skin becomes 400 times more absorptive, allowing more of these dangerous chemicals to enter the body through the skin.
- Heart attacks also effect firefighters. The heavy, bulky gear and hard work that firefighters do put them at a higher risk for heart attacks and strokes than the average person. Normally the body can cool itself through evaporation, however firefighters cannot due to the multiple layers of gear they wear to protect themselves from burns and other injuries. Their bodies can overheat causing dehydration and cardiovascular strain.
For more information on the event and firefighter safety precautions, please contact Millburn Fire Department Captain Adam Brenner at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Link to Fios1 interview with Captain Adam Brenner