Studies show firefighters are at a high risk for cancer.  And we wanted to know how local departments try to avoid health hazards that could cause serious issues later in life.

A fire scene can be dangerous enough with the fire and the smoke.

Now add in potentially cancer-causing materials, and you've got a hot mess.

According to a study done by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health firefighters showed a higher rate of certain types of cancers than other people.

With the fact in mind, fire chiefs like West Ridge Chief, Dan Ouellet do everything they can to prevent any toxic material from seeping in.

They wear breathing masks and protective clothing and try to wash their gear afterward.

But it doesn't always guarantee safety, as they may also come in contact with an opioid or another chemical while dealing with an injured person and


"First responders always want to protect themselves but also protect the patient from any unwanted exposures." Ouellet said

And for an on-the-job firefighter who happens to catch a form of cancer, the state can be there to help.

The state's Firefighter Cancer Presumption Law acts as a workers comp for any firefighter who develops cancer while on the job, or up to a few years after they retire.

But in the meantime, department's like Ouellette’s continue to 

"Work as a team, keep your eyes open for things that could potentially harm you on a call." said Ouellet

The study says the most common types of cancers are mostly digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary.