The Role of Clean PPE in Firefighter Cancer Prevention


According to studies discussed in the Firefighter Cancer Support white paper, “Taking Action Against Cancer in the Fire Service,” firefighters experience higher rates of various cancers compared to the general population. The highest being a 2.02 times greater risk for developing testicular cancer.

Additionally, as we’ve learned, a firefighter’s exposure to carcinogens and other hazardous materials doesn’t end after emergency response. Research shows a strong link between dirty bunker gear and cancer.

To help fire service members be proactive in their health, the TargetSolutions Check It™ application includes a solution for tracking and reporting all personal protective equipment (PPE) inspections, repairs and more.

TargetSolutions’ online training course, NFPA 1851 – Cancer-Related Risks of Firefighting, is currently available with complimentary access. With every completion this year of this free firefighter cancer prevention training, TargetSolutions will donate $1 to the American Cancer Society in January of 2020.

Firefighter Bunker Gear: Cancer Prevention

Fewer firefighters on the fireground, faster burning and more toxic structure fires and the misuse of SCBA masks and other (PPE), all contribute to firefighters’ increased exposure to cancer-causing chemicals. With recent findings, the fire service industry developed best practices for the proper care and use of PPE to reduce cancer risks. These guidelines include:

  • Wearing SCBA throughout all stages of the fire, even overhaul
  • Removing contamination at the fire scene by wiping soot from the head, neck, throat and underarms
  • Changing out of PPE immediately after returning to the station
  • Showering after the fire
  • Properly cleaning PPE
  • Avoiding the transportion contaminated PPE home or in living areas at the station

NFPA 1851 – Cancer-Related Risks of Firefighting, TargetSolutions' online training course currently being offered to the fire service at no charge, highlights these NFPA guidelines and covers important procedures to avoid the most common carcinogens for the industry.

Tracking PPE Inspections to Reduce Risk

Due to the importance of routine PPE inspections, the PPE inspection tool in TargetSolutions Check It™ makes it simple reduce overall risk and be proactive in protecting personnel. Using the application, your department can track PPE checks, alert personnel when PPE inspections are due and produce reports of all PPE repairs, checks, expirations and more.

PPE checklists are fully customizable and can be built through the NFPA template or from scratch, according to your agency’s preferences. Inspections can be set up for annual checks or you can make personnel complete them more frequently to develop a routine in your department and create healthier habits.

Using automation tools, you can ensure personnel are reminded of routine PPE checks and hold individuals accountable for their personal safety. Personnel can receive in-platform or email notifications when an inspection is due, a piece of equipment is due for annual maintenance or when PPE is reaching its end of life.

If a piece of PPE requires repairs, the TargetSolutions Check It™ system can document service ticket costs and provide a historical record of all reported damages to specific PPE. This comprehensive tracking solution is vital in the case that an item is recalled or a firefighter falls ill. Departments can use TargetSolutions Check It™ to immediately identify that specific item and look up its inspection history.

Access Complimentary NFPA 1851 Training

TargetSolutions’ firefighter cancer prevention course features 13 video-based lessons with a live instructor who presents real-life case studies and statistics. NFPA 1851 – Cancer-Related Risks of Firefighting also offers best practices for the decontamination, isolation and reporting of all PPE.

To encourage regular safety procedures, this educational training course is available at no cost. This course demo is for new users of the platform. If you already have access to the TargetSolutions platform, please contact your administrator to request this course.

Please click here to access the free training course.

For questions about TargetSolutions Check It™ or firefighter cancer prevention training, please contact us today (800) 840-8046!

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