Seal Beach Fire Department Rolling Out Anti-Cancer Program

Story Number: NNS180810-07Release Date: 8/10/2018 10:37:00 AM
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By Master-at-Arms Second Class Alexandria Rios, Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Public Affairs

SEAL BEACH, Calif. (NNS) -- The Naval Weapons Station Seal Beach Federal Fire Department has been selected to be the Commander Navy Region Southwest (CNRSW) pilot department for the Cancer Awareness and Prevention Program.

The Cancer Awareness and Prevention Program (CAPP) was founded in 2016 with the purpose to reinforce practices of firefighters in the workplace that result in clean air, clean body and clean gear.

“Being in the fire service, personnel encounter dangerous atmospheres and have a greater chance of contracting cancer,” said station Fire Captain Chris Mookini. “Let’s all do our part in helping prevent another brother or sister from dealing with this threat.”

Firefighters are exposed to significant amounts of carcinogenic chemicals and vapors when responding to daily duties like hazardous materials, confined space rescues, structural fires and building collapses.

These exposures can originate from inhalation or skin contact. Too much exposure to these chemicals could lead to illnesses including various types of cancer. CAPP is helping implement changes to Fire Department personnel’s daily routines to help keep them protected from this threat.

The program’s proposed changes include methods to reduce vehicle exhaust inside fire stations, and processes to avoid cross-contamination involving gear exposed to hazardous chemicals.

For example, fire stations use top-loading washing machines to wash heavy duty contaminated personal protective equipment (PPE). However, this method does not always extract harmful chemicals, and many firefighters have expressed concerns regarding cross-contamination as a result of washing their uniforms and linens in the same washer as their PPE.

“CNRSW Fire and Emergency Services has already taken an active approach to cross contamination and cleaner gear,” said Region Fire Chief Christopher Connelly. “We are also in the process of procuring hoods that will protect our firefighters from toxins, pathogens and other hazardous substances to a greater extent than our current hoods.” 

“Seal Beach will be the first Navy fire station in the region to acquire two sets of PPE,” added Connelly. “These initial steps are only the beginning to what we envision as a long standing commitment to our personnel and their health and safety.”

Upon completion of the CAPP trial, findings will be reported and regional leaders will decide on which practices to be included in the polices for all the fire departments in the Southwest Region.

“The Seal Beach Federal Fire Department is honored to be the pilot program for this initiative,” said base Fire Chief Eric Johnson. “Many of us have personally been affected by cancer within our immediate families and also in our firefighter family. We hope to be the beginning of a Navy and ultimately DoD-wide firefighter cancer prevention effort."

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