(HORRY COUNTY, SC WBTW) Officials with Horry County Fire Rescue tell News13, they place a special emphasis on cancer prevention as firefighters face a 9% higher chance of getting cancer than the general population.
This week is National Firefighter Safety Stand Down Week and departments across the country work to educate their first responders about the dangers associated with occupational cancer.
Signs are posted throughout every station reminding firefighters to take all of their gear off before entering the living quarters, so living spaces aren’t contaminated with carcinogens, a cancer-causing substance.
Many stations throughout the County also have extractors, the machines clean uniforms and rid them of carcinogens.
All firefighters with HCFR also go through a cancer-prevention class as part of their routine training.
“This is a kind of career where people stay in for a long time, and there is really a cultural shift in this,” Horry County Fire Rescue spokesman Tony Casey said. “I’m sure you’ve seen historical firefighter photos where it used to be kind of a badge of honor to have soot all over your face and body, it has completely flipped, it’s not like that.”
Another safety concern for firefighters during summer months, the heat.
Casey tells News13, there is a rehab station at each scene where firefighters can hydrate, take a break and cool down. First responders also rotate through working a fire in units, this so no one gets fatigued.
“We have had this pop up at every fire we fight essentially, the risk of overheating, even in the winter,” Casey said. “They are wearing such thick gear and they are working around fire, so we are really really really on top of that. Hydration, de-gearing, and not getting too fatigued with what they’re doing is constantly at the front of our minds.”