Not a week goes by that you don't see or hear about OFD making a difference. More often than not, most of these moments happen behind the scenes, with no cameras present. The men and women of the department followed a calling to serve the citizens of Omaha while putting their own safety and wellness behind those of a complete stranger. They often answer an alarm ready to work, and leave hours later exhausted and covered in debris and soot.
The danger doesn't end at the scene of the house fire - it continues long after that.
Known cancer causing chemicals (carcinogens) are present in building materials and plastics; when these burn they accumulate on the skin as soot, they are inhaled through smoke, and are ingested simply by taking a drink . Through manual labor on scene, their bodies are heated and absorb the chemicals on their skin at a high rate - most of this taking place on the neck, armpits, and groin.
Current studies by the IAFF, NIOSH, and federal government reveal an excessive increase of cancer among career firefighters compared to the general population. In 2017, the IAFF reported cancer accounted for 61% of line of duty deaths, compared to 18% cardiac related.
The Omaha Fire Department family has had numerous current and retired members that have received a cancer diagnosis in the last 5 years. Cancers such as lung, GI (oral/esophageal/colon), melanoma, lymphoma, and kidney cancers are prevelant in the fire service nationwide. Currently the San Fransisco fire department is conducting a ongoing study: of the female firefighters on the job, 15% of them have had a breast cancer diagnosis, which is 6 times the national average.
What can we do to help?
The answer lies in prevention and support. Prevention by means of better equipment and barrier protection for the skin (hoods, cleansers, ect). We can also support the members by easing their obligations during the first few weeks of a new cancer diagnosis. We can help with fuel for doctors visits, meals for their family, and help purchasing their medicine. It wont be the magic pill that cures them, but an immediate jump to assistance to take once less worry of their mind.
Please join in helping these men and women of the Omaha Fire Department. They have never hesitated to help a stranger, and now its time to help them in their time of need. All donations are welcome large or small, and all proceeds go directly into a supervised account, ready to disperse for help when needed.
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