On behalf of the AFFA, we would like to congratulate sister Katrina Davison and brother Clive Deonarine on being elected to the IAFF Human Relations Committee at the Jack Jessop Biennial Canadian Conference. Sister Davison who serves on Vancouver Local 18’s Executive Board as Vice President of Diversity & Inclusion brings a multitude of skills that will serve to enhance the great work of this IAFF Committee. Brother Deonarine serves as Ajax Local 1092's President, and has been a dedicated past member of the Human Relations Committee.
The Jack Jessop Biennial Canadian Policy Conference was hosted virtually on February 7 & 8, 2022.
As part of the Canadian Policy Conference, two positions on the IAFF’s Human Relations Committee were selected as Canadian representatives. These positions are of the six elected positions dedicated solely to Canada, and serve to represent Canadian IAFF members.
Alberta Fire Fighters Raising Awareness About Cancer Dangers This Month
CALGARY – Alberta’s professional fire fighters are speaking up this month about the single greatest danger they face while protecting the lives and property of their fellow citizens.
January is Fire Fighter Cancer Awareness Month, and the Alberta Fire Fighters Association (AFFA) and its affiliates are highlighting the toll the disease has taken on the profession and sharing information about how fire fighters can reduce their risks of contracting one of the many cancers scientifically linked to firefighting.
“Cancer is an epidemic in the fire service. It’s the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths among Alberta fire fighters, as it is across Canada,” says Matt Osborne, a Calgary fire fighter who serves as AFFA President. “Fire fighters are at an increased risk of cancer due to the toxic nature of our workplace, where burning plastics and other materials found in furniture and other household products combine to create a toxic soup that exposes fire fighters to millions of different and unknown and cancer-causing chemicals.”
Studies confirm that fire fighters experience certain cancers at statistically higher rates than other workers, including brain, bladder kidney and colorectal cancers, leukemia and non-Hodgkins lymphoma and reproductive cancers in both male and female fire fighters. Osborne says even though fire fighters wear breathing packs to prevent smoke inhalation, dangerous toxins can still be absorbed through the skin.
According to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), 52 full-time Alberta fire fighters have died from recognized occupational cancers in the past 10 years, cancers formally deemed to have resulted from workplace exposure and were covered under WCB Alberta. Osborne says that tragic figure is just too high, and it also doesn’t take into account a significant number of Alberta fire fighters who have died from cancer but were not covered by WCB benefits.
“Fire fighters are proud to serve and protect their fellow citizens, and we enter the profession knowing its many dangers including statistically higher rates of certain cancers. But we’re also committed to reducing the terrible toll cancer has taken on our profession.”
All month, the AFFA and its affiliates are using social media to spread awareness about cancer and firefighting, and are encouraging firehall discussions about cancer and prevention strategies. Osborne supports a three-pronged approach to address the epidemic of cancer among fire fighters – prevention, early detection and WCB coverage. Prevention starts with proper hygiene practises with SCBA and PPE use, and working with employers to ensure adequate decontamination resources and protocols are in place. Early detection relies on fire fighters accessing cancer screening at earlier ages than other workers due their increased risk.
Since 2003, Alberta has had legislation that presumes certain cancers and other diseases are occupational when contracted by fire fighters with a specified number of years on the job, which facilitates the workers’ compensation process. While Alberta currently recognizes 16 different types of cancers as occupational among fire fighters, Osborne says there’s room on the list for even more cancers as science confirms their link to the profession.
President - Alberta Fire Fighters Association
Fighting fires is essential and dangerous work. In addition to the physical hazards faced by firefighters, some household products become more dangerous when they burn. In particular, firefighters can be exposed to toxic substances, such as certain harmful flame retardants in upholstered furniture, mattresses, and electronic devices, when responding to a fire. The Government of Canada has heard concerns from firefighters and stakeholders, and is taking action to protect these first responders in their lifesaving work.
Alberta Fire Fighters To Receive Vaccinations
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
A Statement from Brad Readman, President of the Alberta Fire Fighters Association:
We would like to thank the Government of Alberta for recognizing the need for fire fighters to
immediately receive the COVID-19 vaccine.
45% of calls that fire fighters in Alberta respond to require us to administer some kind of
medical first response – making sure we are vaccinated protects not only the fire fighters out
on calls, but also the public that we serve.
We would like to thank Minister Shandro and Dr. Deena Hinshaw, as well as Premier Jason
Kenney for listening to our reasoning and finding a way to get fire fighters immediately
vaccinated. We would also like to thank every member of the public, the members of different
fire services and Alberta’s fire chiefs who called for this adjustment to the vaccination criteria.
Alberta’s fire fighters will continue to serve the public in their moments of emergency as
faithfully as we always have – just a little safer now.
403.877.7797 - [email protected]
On behalf of the Alberta Fire Fighters Association I wish to extend my most sincere condolences to Don's family, friends, and colleagues. I was very pleased to be able to call Don a friend, and will forever be grateful for the conversations and time we shared together. President Marino served for over 25 years as a firefighter in the North Bergen Fire Department and North Hudson Regional Fire Rescue, retiring from active service in 2011. He held multiple leadership positions in the firefighter union locals in both departments. President Marino served for many years as 2nd Vice President and Treasurer of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey, the chartered state association of the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), before becoming President in 2008. Don you were truly a great person, friend and brother, and I’m going to miss your friendship. Rest well my brother.