Firefighters are often seen as heroes of the community, bravely risking their lives to protect others. Although this is true, there is a darker side to the job: Firefighters are exposed to many risks on a regular basis, including heart disease and cancer. In fact, nearly half of firefighters die from one or more of these diseases. To make matters worse, firefighters may be less likely than other professions to report symptoms of illness due to the stigma around admitting weakness or illness in front of coworkers or supervisors. This article will outline some common diseases that firefighters are at risk for developing so that you can take preventative measures against them.

Heart Disease

One of the riskiest occupations is known around the world to be firefighting. Every time they respond to a fire, these men and women risk their lives. Burns are obviously the most evident risk associated with being near flames. But behind the pyre, there is another, more cunning murderer. About 45% of firemen who pass away while working in the US do so from cardiovascular causes.

The main risk factors for heart disease in firefighters include:

  • Injuries from the job, including broken bones, burns, and smoke inhalation
  • Stress from physical exertion at work and stressful situations such as fire emergencies or explosions
  • Obesity, which can lead to high blood pressure and diabetes

According to studies from the American College of Cardiology, myocardial infarction is the main reason why firemen die while performing their duties. In fact, myocardial infarctions are to blame for half of all firefighter deaths that occur in the line of duty. 


The risk of cancer is one of the biggest risks firefighters face on a daily basis. The incidence of cancers, such as rectal cancer, prostate cancer, bladder cancer, testicular cancer, mesothelioma, and malignant melanoma, is consistently reported as being significantly higher in firefighters than in other people, according to an analysis of existing systematic reviews on the risk of cancer or cancer mortality in firefighters.

Aqueous film-forming foam, sometimes referred to as firefighting foam or AFFF, is used to put off fires. Because of its efficiency in putting out jet fuel and petroleum fires, it has been in use since the 1960s, especially in the military and at airports. Firefighting foam is created using perilous substances known as PFAS. However, firefighters who were consistently exposed to the PFAS chemicals in AFFF may develop a variety of cancers.

You could be entitled to compensation in a firefighting foam lawsuit if you believe that exposure to PFAS chemicals led to the development of your cancer. Many types of cancers have a genetic component, meaning they can be passed down through generations. If you have family members who have been diagnosed with cancer, it’s important that you inform your doctor if they were ever firefighters or worked with hazardous chemicals so they can adjust their treatment plan accordingly. You can also file a Firefighter Foam Lawsuit in this case. 

Chronic Respiratory Disease

Chronic respiratory disease is a group of conditions that affect your lungs, including asthma, chronic bronchitis, and emphysema. It can be caused by breathing in smoke and other harmful substances such as ash or carbon monoxide. These poisonous vapors can damage the cells in your lungs and cause them to swell up. This makes it difficult for you to breathe properly, causing shortness of breath or even feeling like you’re suffocating because there’s not enough oxygen reaching your brain.

Other factors that may increase the risk of getting these diseases include secondhand smoke exposure (like being around someone who smokes), dust exposure (such as working near heavy traffic), mold exposure (working at construction sites where water has been present) and air pollution from industrial factories or motor vehicles.[3]

Hepatitis B and C

Hepatitis B and C are viral infections that affect the liver. Hepatitis B is transmitted through blood and bodily fluids, including sexual contact. Hepatitis C is transmitted through blood and bodily fluids, including needle sharing, but it can also be spread from mother to child at birth.

Both viruses can cause chronic infections that can lead to serious long-term health problems if not treated early on. The good news? Both viruses are easily preventable with vaccines; however, many fire departments do not require their firefighters to be vaccinated against either disease before entering into service or after they join a department (if ever).


Stress is a risk to firefighters. Stress can be caused by the nature of their job, as well as other factors like personal relationships, family, and finances. Early in their careers, professional firemen are frequently exposed to potentially traumatic situations. Despite being significant, this exposure does not lead to a high percentage of mental health diagnoses. The level of distress was steady and modest, demonstrating the toughness of those choosing a career in emergency services.

Stress leads to other health problems, such as diabetes and heart disease. The good news? Stress is manageable. You can take steps to manage stress at home and at work. Talk with your doctor or call your local fire department for more information on how you can reduce stress in your life.

Firefighters are an incredibly tough group of people who are willing to put their lives on the line in order to save others. In return, they deserve our respect and support as they work to protect our communities. But with so many different dangers facing them every day, it’s important that we understand what these risks are and how they can be mitigated.


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