Firefighters face dangers when they answer almost every call, but there is also the hidden danger of cancer.
This week, 15 retired and active-duty firefighters from Massachusetts claimed in a federal lawsuit filed against two dozen companies that so-called “forever chemicals” in their gear and in firefighting foam manufactured by the businesses contributed to their cancer diagnoses.
This week in a Fort Worth City Council work session, Fire Chief Jim Davis said he had been in discussion with council member Jared Williams about concerns surrounding PFAS (an abbreviation for perfluoroalkyl and polyfluoroalkyl substances) which are also known as “forever chemicals.”
“It’s very obvious that there is a peer-to-peer conversation going on about what is called ‘forever chemicals’ in our community. There was a conversation today of ‘is the fire department awake and at the table discussing what this looks like moving forward’ and the answer is absolutely, yes,” Davis said.
The Fort Worth Fire Department has partnered with UT Southwestern to study and better understand the link between firefighting and cancer.
Fort Worth has also dedicated more than $1.2 million to the mitigation of cancer for firefighters.
“You are fighting fires in some cases that create chemical exposure that leads to the risk of cancer, but also you all work with substances that are necessary for fighting those fires that also creates exposure risks,” councilman Jared Williams said. “I want to follow up this [report] with another [report] specifically around PFAS and forever chemicals that you are describing and looking at how do we incorporate mitigation solutions considering what we know and what the field of research is and the PFAS risk to people and our firefighters.”
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A report will likely be presented to city council members in the near future.