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Health risks and health effects of firefighter work

Health risks and health effects of firefighter work

The primary objectives of the project are to explore health risks among firefighters, and to study the dual challenge of exposure to heat and carcinogenic compounds exposure and related outcomes, and how this knowledge can be used to establish preventive measures.

Photo: SINTEF

The project will study cancer incidence using register data and exposure estimates, and describe penetration of toxic smoke particles, gases and vapours in small-scale scenarios and in real fire scenarios. In addition, thermoregulatory responses in male and female firefighters will be studied. This will form the basis for development of measures to be used by manufacturers to improve their products related to protection of firefighters, changes in practice and supplementary knowledge that can lead to a reduction in the incidence of cancer among firefighters and more effective coordination between public agencies and fire safety actors.

Health and occupational research groups at SINTEF, National Institute of Occupational Health (STAMI), the Cancer Registry of Norway (CRN) and RISE Fire Research will collaborate to generate knowledge about these topics. The project also collaborates with the Fire Research and Innovation Centre – FRIC, as well as an international advisory expert group and a reference group of representatives from firefighter departments, authorities, scientists and producers of firefighter clothing. 

Hot environmental conditions and high work intensity expose firefighters to significant levels of thermoregulatory stress. Also, many known and suspected carcinogenic substances have been demonstrated during knock down and overhaul of fires. In addition to direct exposure during firefighting, the personal protective equipment and gears may be an important source of hazardous exposures. An increased demand for new knowledge and a better understanding of factors leading to health problems/illnesses among firefighters is needed. 

Published 27 January 2020
Senior Research Scientist

Project duration

2019 - 2023