The nature of a professional firefighter’s work can pose a constant unknown danger of what they will come into contact with each day while serving the public. Although the firefighters seem to work through a thick cloud of smoke, other invisible dangers may not be as apparent to the naked eye. Firefighters are regularly exposed to hidden environmental hazards without ever knowing the whole situation at hand. All of the information firefighters usually receive is not determined until after the fact of the matter or emergency event. Whether a call received for a traffic wreck, workplace accident, fire, natural disaster, explosion, or chemical spill, firefighters have to be prepared.
In comparison to other workers who share occupational hazards similar to firefighters, there is at least a semi-controlled or predictable work environment available to them daily. Occupations such as plant workers in other manufacturing, energy, or chemical plant vocations are exposed to dangerous situations as well. Still, the hazards a firefighter may face can always be changing from one danger to the next without any warning or notice. Furthermore, the professional work of a firefighter is proven to be dangerous and very unpredictable.
There is nothing remedial about the nature of a firefighter’s work because their daily duties can be unforeseen circumstances involving all types of everchanging scenarios. The danger of the occupation is not a known secret, but the most unspoken dangers are the possible adverse effects of this challenging profession.
A Firefighters Constant Contact with a Dangerous Environment
Coming into constant contact with dangers such as smoke, chemicals, victims of trauma or death, burns, and collapsing structures from fires or explosions are just a few notable hazards a firefighter will encounter on any given day. Firefighters know that their job does not compare with a typical routine, “nine to five,” workday schedule. When they sign on to become a firefighter, they not only sign on for a dangerous career, but they also sign on to serve the public.
Professional and volunteer firefighters have to go through extensive amounts of mental and physical training to prepare for the job. The physical activity required can also be tolling on the firefighter’s body and mind due to the high-stress environments coupled with the long working hours required in a non-traditional setting, commonplace in most emergencies.
Harmful Effects of the Firefighting Profession
Over time, the work environment alone can take a toll on the overall long-term health of the professional firefighter. Almost comparable to national football league players, firefighters
seem to have a history of long-term ailments that come from a profession of on the job hazards, and physical or mental stress.
Firefighters receive training to battle with the rigors of mental and physical effects of the occupation on the scene, but even as they prepare for the job at hand, the side-effects can show up years later. Common trade ailments of firefighters such as heat exhaustion, chemical burns, and aches or pains will remain normal alongside the nature of the various on the job tasks the firefighters perform. Long-term side-effects such as heart disease, asthma, cancer, bloodborne pathogenic diseases, post-traumatic stress disorder, and mesothelioma can develop.
Firefighting and its link to Mesothelioma
Aside from the many on the job dangers that exist with this occupation along with other long-term side-effects such as heart disease, chronic respiratory disease, cancer or lung-cancer, hepatitis or bloodborne illness contraction, and stress are more commonly associated with the risks of being a firefighter. A severe side-effect associated with firefighting occupation is the rare cancer formation of mesothelioma.
Mesothelioma is developed over time by the exposure of asbestos, which is absorbed into the body by inhalation. Once the asbestos fibers inhaled, the particulates settle in the lining of the abdomen and the lungs. Consistent exposure to asbestos increases the likelihood of the development of mesothelioma.
Harmful toxic encounters with other substances besides asbestos predispose a firefighter to not only be subject to the danger of another particular source of contamination within the body but also compromise the body or, in particular, the lungs from being able to fight off other forms of cancer such as mesothelioma. Once a fire is out, asbestos particulates can hover in the air even after the fire has is extinguished.
Safety precautions to prevent the risk of inhaling toxic substances, including asbestos, are available. One of the most vulnerable times for a firefighter to inhale asbestos would not only be if they were not using a self-contained breathing apparatus (SCBA) while a fire is in the process of being extinguished but right after the time the fire was eliminated. Not only is it essential to use and maintain an SCBA properly, but it is even more crucial for a firefighter to keep the device on while on the scene even after the fire is extinguished. Most of the exposure happens after the firefighter has removed the SCBA prematurely by default; inherently, believing the danger has passed. As a whole, secondary air or respiratory equipment is not a cure-all for eliminating the risk of inhaling contaminated substances. Even if appropriately used, the length of time firefighter practices or works at their vocation will raise the odds of developing respiratory problems in the future. In turn, without using safety equipment at all, the risk would be paramount. Using this equipment will slow the effect or at least stop the possible development of mesothelioma within the extremely susceptible risk group that is deemed worthy of noticing the hazardous occupation of the professional firefighter. If you have been diagnosed with mesothelioma. An asbestos lawyer can help you discover financial assistance options and pursue compensation.