Fire: measures to prevent cancer not always respected

News 13 March, 2018
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    Sarah Daoust-Braun

    Tuesday, 13 march 2018 19:10

    Tuesday, 13 march 2018 19:10

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    Packaged food, wipe cleaning, and mandatory shower are just some of the measures to which the Montreal fire department must submit themselves to prevent the risks of cancer, which, however, are not always respected.

    After having fought a fire, firefighters should wash and change to their return to the barracks. “Most of the time, this is not the case,” argued the president of the Association of Montreal fire department, Ronald Martin, which still finds several discrepancies in the application of security protocols.

    Since 2002, the standards Commission, equity, health and safety in the workplace (CNESST) has accepted 87 cases of claims for cancers in firefighters, including nine cases are still active. Among these, Martin Salois, a fireman in the borough of Verdun, suffering from a severe lung cancer.


    According to the director of the Service de sécurité incendie de Montréal Bruno Lachance, a major shift has been implemented in the past few years in the fire department, which now recognize the health risks associated with their profession.

    “It was a good collaboration of our staff, even if it’s not perfect, he conceded. There may be a few minor differences sometimes, for example, the wearing of gloves.”

    Bruno Lachance presented on Tuesday before the public safety Commission of the measures put in place in recent years to reduce the risk of occupational diseases. The procedures are aimed more particularly at risks of contamination and poisoning skin and by the smoke, gases and soot.

    Some 2300 firefighters in montreal are forced to wear the full their combat clothing, that they possess in duplicate, on the site of a fire. Their clothes are also cleaned in depth once a year by professional firms.

    The fire Service also wants to buy within the next few years 35 trucks pumpers with walk-in showers, portable and equip the seats of the vehicles covers are easily cleanable.

    Bruno Lachance has not been able to quantify the costs of all these measures. “Over the long term, it represents several millions of dollars,” he said.

    The Quebec late

    The link between the development of cancer and the job of a firefighter has been confirmed in 2007 by the atlantic Institute for research on cancer (IARC).

    Firefighters face today to contaminants more toxic in the new materials such as plastics and treated wood.

    It is only in 2016 that the CNESST acknowledged the seven cancers linked to the profession, including cancers of the lung, bladder and kidney.

    On 8 may, the public safety Commission will analyse the exposure of firefighters as first responders for post-traumatic stress disorders.

    Other measures of protection to come

    • • Purchase of 35 trucks pumpers equipped with showers, portable
    • • Purchase protection-fronts and earmuffs for headsets
    • • Hoods own in reserve on-site fire
    • • Addition of slipcovers on the seats of vehicles for better cleaning
    • • Training to clean the clothes of the firefighters on site and in the barracks