On September 11, 2012, I found out I had stage IV Melanoma. The 9/11 anniversary not lost on this firefighter. Events do shape our lives and, with the support of my family, I began a new journey that day. From that day on my life had added purpose.
My new journey became learning as much about this disease as possible along with the circumstances of acquiring it, particularly among firefighters. My added purpose in life was to meet with as many firefighters as I could and tell them the amazing news, that skin cancer is preventable and avoidable. The terribly bad news for firefighters is the environmental conditions of our work dramatically increases our risk of melanoma and other cancers. We walk into Hell without enough safeguards to protect our lives.
My journey has led you to this website. For that I am grateful. Whether we met at one of my firehouse training sessions, or you were referred, you are here to learn more about firefighters and skin cancer. You are taking steps to stay healthy on the job.
Below is a small amount of what I found through my research. It could save your life.
Mark Rine, Vice Chair SKNLUV
Married and father of 5 children (ages 15-3)
City of Columbus firefighter and paramedic since 2006
Executive Assistance to Columbus Firefighter Union Local 67 President
Assistant Director of Ohio for Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN)
Stage IV Melanoma since Sept. 11, 2012
Pain in the butt for law makers since 2013
EVOLUTION OF FIREFIGHTER DANGER
United States began to recognize heart and lung as dangers to fire personnel and presumptive laws began.
California adopts first Cancer Presumptive Law
First medically backed firefighter cancer study (Howe and Burch) Cardiac #1 Line of Duty Death (LODD)
More firefighters diagnosed with cancer than last 10 years combined 1 in 3 will be diagnosed
In many states cancer is not recognized as LODD
Federal Gov’t acknowledges cancer connection (Sept. 11th victims)
35 states recognize cancer as work related for firefighters.
FIREFIGHTERS FACE A GREATER RISK OF CANCER
Cancer is the most dangerous and unrecognized threat to the health and safety of our nation’s firefighters. Multiple studies have repeatedly demonstrated credible evidence and biologic creditability for statistically higher rates of multiple types of cancers in firefighters compared to the general American population including:
- Testicularcancer (2.02x the risk)
- Multiplemyeloma (1.53x the risk)
- Non-Hodgkin’slymphoma (1.51x the risk)
- Skincancer (1.39x the risk)
- Prostatecancer (1.28x the risk)
- Malignantmelanoma (1.31x the risk)
- Brain cancer (1.31x the risk)
- Coloncancer (1.21x the risk)
- Leukemia (1.14x the risk)
- Breast cancer among women (6x the risk)
LUNGS & SKIN
Firefighters inhale carcinogens and carcinogens are absorbed through the skin. Skin’s permeability increases with temperature and for every 5° increase in skin temperature, absorption increases 400%. Carcinogens then linger on our unwashed gear, helmets, and clothes long after the fire creating continued and prolonged exposure. Ironically, that soot and smoke we wear as a badge of honor is killing us.
The increase in skin absorption of carcinogens for each 5˚ elevation in skin temperature.
DENIAL IS KILLING US
Despite the significant evidence supporting the relationship between fire-fighting and cancer, not all are in agreement that sufficient evidence exists to establish a causal relationship between firefighting and cancer. Municipal authorities and governing bodies have the power of preventing important legislation and access to benefits. It is an act of denial to save dollars instead of being accountable for saving lives.
WHAT ALL FIREFIGHTERS MUST DO
- Book, or attend, one of my Firehouse Training sessions. Check out our schedule, we add new dates and locations regularly. Encourage your firefighting brothers/sisters to attend.
- Schedule a skin screening from a dermatologist. Our great friend, Dr. Ravitskiy of Ohio Skin Cancer Institute, has made a generous commitment to provide FREE screenings to firefighters and their spouses.
- SCBA’s worn from initial attack to finish of overhaul! NO EXCEPTIONS!!!!
- Do gross field decon of PPE to remove soot and particulates at the scene.
- Use baby wipes or Wet-Naps to remove particulates from exposed skin after doffing PPE at the scene.
- Change clothes and wash them immediately following the incident.
- Shower thoroughly after incident.
- Clean your PPE, helmet, hood, and mask immediately after incident.
- Do not take contaminated clothes or PPE home or store it in your car.
- Decon interior of fire apparatus after incident
- No bunker gear in living or sleeping areas
- Properly store gear when not in use
- Use sunscreen or sun block
- Take steps to stop tobacco use
Firefighter Cancer Support Network www.firefightercancersupport.org.