Why issue of occupational disease is 'rampant' within the fire service

Updated: Apr 26

Firefighters are facing exceedingly high levels of occupational cancers.

In January this year, the Montreal Firefighters Association released a call to expand the list of cancers that are recognized as occupational diseases for firefighters – a move that firefighters’ associations around Canada are in total support of.

According to a study conducted by the University of Fraser Valley in B.C., 86 per cent of firefighter line of duty deaths in Canada are attributable to cancer. Firefighters, by virtue of the job that they do, are typically in excellent physical condition. “However, when it comes to cancers, [firefighters] far exceed the general public,” says Neil McMillan.

McMillan is an elected executive member with IAFF Local 162 in Ottawa. He is chair of the WSIB committee for the local association, which covers around 1,000 unionized firefighters in Ottawa. Read more.


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