firefighter in front of a burning building

Few jobs have more inherent dangers than firefighting. Dedicated professionals put their well-being, if not their very lives on the line. These brave professionals understand that the possibility of serious injury or death is a strong possibility.

Required training is also part of the job. Initially, firefighters have to undergo approximately 550 hours, not counting the hours required to stay certified.

However, when retirement comes, the possibility of health problems following a lengthy career becomes a reality. While not as publicized as other professions, many firefighters face a harsh reality after leaving their jobs.

Mesothelioma diagnoses.

Mesothelioma and other deadly diseases killing firefighters

When compared to the general public, firefighters are twice as likely to suffer from malignant mesothelioma. Cancer overall is the number one cause of death in that profession. Firefighter Cancer Support Network revealed that two-thirds of career firefighters have died from the disease. In addition, they have a nine percent higher risk of cancer diagnoses and a 14 percent higher fatality rate.

Numerous buildings constructed decades ago contain asbestos. When those structures catch fire and go airborne, so do the toxic substances contained in them, putting these frontline workers in danger of contracting illnesses where formal diagnoses are measured in decades after exposure.

When the presence of asbestos in a burning building is known, firefighters use their respirators. Their gear is decontaminated following the fire. Every member then undergoes chest x-rays, if only as a baseline to compare should medical problems in the future arise.

Longtime firefighters remember a time more than 20 years ago when fires burned orange, resembling run-of-the-mill campfires. Today, they see fires burning blue, green, or other colors due to asbestos and other chemicals that these frontline workers come in contact with on a daily basis.

Fires are survivable. To date, mesothelioma is not.