Firefighter Safety: Making it to and through Retirement
DEDICATED TO RETIRED FIRE CAPTAIN ALBERT TYLDESLEY – HARWICH FIRE DEPARTMENT.
Every day I log onto the internet and read the latest thoughts about how to better do our jobs. I read about tactics, trainings ideas and things gone horribly wrong that caused one of own to pay the ultimate price. Recently I had a wake-up call. My effort spent learning has overlooked one important area. I am afraid that many of you have over looked this too. This oversight came to light when I found out that my first Captain, 10 plus years into a line of duty retirement, has prostate cancer.
He is the second firefighter in my department to be diagnosed within the last year, the other being an active duty Captain with a grade 4 glioblastoma. There is also another firefighter from a nearby Department being treated for bladder cancer.
So why all this cancer all of the sudden? Is it a fluke? A product of us all getting older? Or maybe it has something to do with what we do every day, what we are exposed to, what we breathe in and touch. Both of the brothers from my Department started their careers before diesel exhaust collection systems. They worked in our old headquarters, where diesel soot was commonly found in the second floor dayroom. They worked in a time when “night hitches” were only worn at night, and “taking a feed” was an ok thing to do. But they also started their careers at a time when there were less plastics and manmade materials burning.
Things are different today, yet sometimes old habits die hard. Laziness sometimes prevents us from hooking up the diesel exhaust system. Pride prevents us from cleaning our gear. Of course there are also places where the importance of these two simple things has not met the budgetary importance scale.
The other sad fact is that we all suffer from the “other guy” disease. Where no matter what happens it will happen to the other guy. Yet many cancers can be easily screened for, and the most we will suffer for it is some discomfort and embarrassment while the doc violates a place that was designed as an exit.
So in the day of rapid intervention, Vent Enter Search, NIMS, aggressive tactics and 2-in 2-out, I ask you all this; Take a little time to consider that it isn’t only important to come home from your next run, but to be able to spend some time with your family after you hang up the leather for good.
Follow this link to some guidelines for Cancer Screening: