Langley firefighters Mark Deakin, Keith Reddick and Peter Nicol collected donations to fight cancer, a cause that is close to home for the profession. Supplied

Cancer campaign close to home for firefighters

Annual daffodil drive collects money to fight an illness all too comon in the profession

For the Langley firefighters standing outside the Save-On-Foods store on 64th Avenue, fighting cancer was a deeply personal issue.

Research shows firefighters are three times more likely to get cancer than most people, said Andrew Hewitson, the president of the union that represents Langley firefighters, International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) local 4550.

“It impacts almost everybody on our job in one way or another,” Hewitson said.

Over two days, April 13-14, the firefighters raised about $2,500 for cancer research with their daffodil drive, Hewitson estimated.

“People in Langley, they always step up in a big way,” Hewitson said.

READ MORE: Giving a little makes a big difference in Langley

A University of the Fraser Valley (UFV) study published last year found that cancer was a leading cause of death among Canadian firefighters.

Firefighters are two to three times more likely to be die from cancer when compared to the general population, the study said, even though they tend to lead healthier lifestyles.

It found that cancer caused more than 86 per cent of firefighter fatalities – overtaking cardiovascular disease as the top killer of Canadian firefighters – while traumatic injuries and mental health issues also take a significant toll.

Firefighters are regularly exposed to concentrated carcinogens in the air, soot and tar at a fire ground, the study noted.

Lead author Rachel Ramsden said the findings point to the need for “a method of continually collecting and analyzing firefighter health data.”

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