FEMA Grant awarded to reduce firefighter cancer mortality

Firefighter Cancer Support Network, Center for Fire, Rescue & EMS Health Research and 15-40 Connection announce partnership as they jointly accept FEMA’s Fire Prevention and Safety Grant

BURBANK, Calif.  —  The Firefighter Cancer Support Network announces a new partnership with the Center for Fire, Rescue & EMS Health Research and 15-40 Connection. The three organizations, who share a commitment to reducing firefighter cancer mortality, have jointly received the Federal Emergency Management Agency’s (FEMA) Fire Prevention and Safety Grant. This FEMA grant program supports projects that enhance the safety of the public and firefighters from fire and related hazards. The primary goal is to reduce injury and prevent death among high-risk populations. 

Cancer is the most dangerous threat to firefighter health. According to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), cancer caused 61% of career firefighter line-of-duty deaths between 2002 and 2016. Recent research sponsored by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health found that firefighters have a 9% higher risk of developing cancer and a 14% greater risk of dying from cancer. 

Since 2005, the Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN) has provided badge to badge mentorship to thousands of cancer-stricken firefighters, EMS providers and their families. The nonprofit also delivers extensive firefighter cancer awareness and prevention training nationwide. “This partnership is a major win and will allow us to be directly responsive to the needs we are hearing through our national engagement with firefighters to address cancer prevention, health and education. It will also afford us the opportunity to enhance our unique Badge to Badge mentorship program,” said FCSN President Bryan Frieders. “What we are seeing today is an incredible shift in the fire service. And this collaborative effort means we will be able to continue moving the needle forward in the area of firefighter cancer prevention and support in a significant way.”

The Center for Fire, Rescue & EMS Health Research (CFREHR) works in close collaboration with the first responder community to provide empirical evidence about the epidemiology, prevention and treatment of health risks facing firefighters and EMS professionals. “We’re excited to join this collaboration to disseminate actionable steps firefighters can take to monitor and take control of their own health. This promises to have a true measurable impact,” says Dr. Sara Jahnke, Director of the CFREHR.

15-40 Connection is an education and advocacy organization that is saving lives by teaching people how to detect cancer early and how to be active partners in their healthcare. In 2018, 15-40 Connection created an initiative to help members of the fire service beat cancer through the power of early diagnosis. 

Through the FEMA grant, the three organizations will work to reduce firefighter cancer mortality by compiling the latest information about firefighters’ cancer risks, highlighting prevention efforts beyond typical fire ground behaviors, raising awareness about early detection and early warning signs, and augmenting existing network and training resources. Plans include FCSN and CFREHR scientists drafting focused reports for each of the 18 cancers associated with firefighting, building additional resources for FCSN Mentorship curriculum, utilizing 15-40 Connection’s existing 3 Steps Detect℠ education program, integrating early prevention components into the legacy FCSN materials, and offering online training to 5,000 firehouses. Additionally, a national media campaign will be developed.

“Since starting our Firefighter Initiative two years ago, we have brought our 3 Steps Detect℠ education to more than 90 fire departments, in six states, including the Fire Department of New York City (FDNY). This FEMA grant will help expand our reach and save more firefighter lives through the power of early cancer detection,” says 15-40 Connection President & Executive Director Tricia Laursen. “We are honored to be partnering with FCSN and CFREHR, two incredible leaders whose vital work with firefighters we greatly respect, and are excited about the impact we will make together.”