For us to effectively build our CAPP Program, we had to properly identify the problem. Through our years of research, we were able to identify more than one problem. Part of the problem is that there are so many aspects of the problem, it's not easy to say that there is just one answer. There are lots of solutions that lead us to the answer.
A very big problem with firefighter occupational cancer is the latency period. The unsafe behaviors many firefighters engage in regards to cancer prevention will not cause harm for many years. Therefore, might not be taken as seriously as they should be.
Firefighting turnouts and gear offer protection from the intense heat encountered while on fires but do allow some cancer-causing particles such as soot to penetrate the gear and end up on firefighters' skin. There, it can be absorbed into the body if action is not taken to mitigate the risk.
THE BIGGEST PROBLEM
Cancer in the fire service is likely a far bigger problem than what we think it is and possibly underreported for a few reasons. 1. Healthy worker effect - firefighters are inherently a healthier population because of physical job requirements. Therefore, they should have a lower risk of developing cancer. But sadly, they are at a greater risk for many types of cancers 2. Retired and Volunteer firefighters cases may not be captured in statistics. 3. Until recently, there was no national database for tracking firefighter cancers. Fortunately, H.R.931 - Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2018 was passed, and now the CDC can begin to collect this important data.