Page Updated: January 01, 2017

Asbestos and Firefighters

Firefighters are usually the first respondents to fire disasters as they willingly and bravely put their own lives on the line. This includes homes and buildings that were built during time periods in which asbestos was heavily used in construction. In turn, not only are current firefighters at risk of developing toxic diseases, but retired firefighters and their families may be at risk as well.

If you or a loved one have been diagnosed with mesothelioma, asbestosis, or asbestos-related lung cancer, you may be eligible for substantial compensation. Fill out our form to receive our free Financial Compensation Packet. Our packet is loaded with information on leading mesothelioma attorneys in your area, how to file a claim for asbestos trust funds, how to get paid in 90 days, and more. 

How Firefighters Are Exposed to Asbestos

According to the Department of Emergency Services & Public Protection, firefighters who enter buildings or homes constructed with asbestos are exposed to hazardous mineral when its fibers become airborne. Prior to the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) strict regulations placed on asbestos use in 1979, asbestos was used in numerous homes and buildings parts, including:

  • Vinyl
  • Roofing
  • Siding materials
  • Shingles
  • Attic insulation
  • Floor and ceiling tiles
  • Furnaces, and more

In addition to asbestos exposure from buildings and homes, most firefighters in the past wore protective clothing that was made with asbestos due to the mineral’s resistance to heat and fire. From the early 1900s’ until the late 1970s, numerous types of gear and clothing contained asbestos, including firefighter helmets, boots, jackets, and coats.

Fire stations in the past were also built with asbestos-containing products. Firefighters who spent time in these stations, especially those who helped repair things on the station were at risk of inhaling asbestos fibers.

Studies on Firefighters and Asbestos

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that a multi-year study was performed between between 1987 and 2003 by the United States Fire Administration (USFA) and the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in order to examine the risk firefighters have in regards to cancer, due to the excessive exposure to smoke, soot, asbestos, fumes, and other toxins that are a part of a firefighter’s job.

According to the study, which included more than 18,000 firefighters, both currently working and retired, there is a strong chance of firefighters developing asbestos-related illnesses, such as malignant mesothelioma, asbestosis, and asbestos-related lung cancer. The study also indicated that firefighters are a heightened risk of other illnesses as well, including bladder cancer, leukemia, and kidney cancer.

Firefighters and Mesothelioma Lawsuits

Due to the sheer amount of exposure to asbestos, numerous firefighters have sued the manufacturers who supplied asbestos-containing products to homes and buildings. Many firefighters have even sued the city in which the asbestos exposure occurred.

For example, in 2010, a substantial amount of firefighters in Everett, Washington after being exposed to asbestos while simply doing training exercises. The building where the training took place was littered with asbestos, and court records indicate that a fire official knew of the asbestos, yet didn’t move the training to another place nor offer any protective gear during the training period.

Tips for Current Firefighters

Although asbestos is no longer used in fire stations and protective clothing, firefighters still run the risk of inhaling asbestos while on the job. Fortunately, there are a number of things that can be done to help firefighters as much as possible when working around asbestos.

  • Remove all work clothes and wash them as soon as possible
  • Always wear a regulation respirator when working; ordinary dust masks will not prevent you from ingesting or inhaling asbestos
  • When working after a fire, make sure the area is wetted down thoroughly
  • Make sure to leave all work gear in the same storage place, thoroughly washed
  • Take a hot shower as soon as possible after work
  • When washing work gear, make sure it’s in a washer specifically for asbestos clothing and gear only

When called to an emergency situation, it’s often hard to discern where asbestos is located, and in most instances, firefighters do not have the time to stop and check. Wearing the proper protection equipment is extremely important as it can help save your life when you are working in an building or home with high amounts of asbestos.

Additional Help and Resources for Firefighters

If you’ve been injured by mesothelioma, asbestosis, or asbestos-related cancer, keep in mind that there is a good chance that you’ll qualify for considerable compensation.Remember to fill out our from to get your free Financial Compensation Packet, with information on asbestos and mesothelioma lawyers in your area. If you have questions or need additional assistance, contact us at 800-793-4540.

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