Birmingham Firefighters Local 911 is raising funds to help their fellow firefighters battling cancer throughout the area by selling wristbands that say “Firefighters Against Cancer/No One Fights Alone.”
The Birmingham Firefighters Local 911 effort is designed to help firefighters with cancer who are not covered under the state of Michigan's Cancer Presumption Fund. The fund was created by state legislation in 2014, and directs the state's worker's compensation agency to play claims and to administer the fund.
Scientific studies have shown that current active firefighters are 60 percent more likely to develop cancer than the average citizen, due in part to the hazardous materials they are confronted with when a building catches fire. The synthetic fires, aldehydes, polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons, and toluene, among others, have proven to not only be life threatening upon inhalation, but also increase the risk of various cancers. Cancers that firefighters are at higher risk of developing are skin, brain, bladder, kidney, thyroid, prostate and lymphatic cancers.
Birmingham’s Fire Department has adopted policies to help reduce the risk its force can face with steps such as washing firefighting gear on a regular basis; washing floors where fire trucks’ park; wearing their self-contained breathing apparatus throughout an incident; and having cleaning wipes on scene to wipe the soot and toxins off their skin prior to returning to the station after a run.
Still, many firefighters develop and battle cancer, and union members are selling the wrist bands for $5 to help offset health costs.
“In 2014, the state adopted Public Act 515, the Cancer Presumption Act for First Responders,” said Jeff Scaife, president of Birmingham Firefighters Local 911. “We appreciated the actions taken by the state, however, the act does not cover those afflicted prior to 2014. We want to make sure those firefighters who are battling cancer before then aren’t left behind.”
Those interested in purchasing a wristband can go to their Facebook page or send an email to: L911firefightersagainstcancer@gmail.com.