Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association Meets in Erie, PTSD and Cancer Rates Among Top Issues
About 200 representatives of the Pennsylvania Professional Fire Fighters Association are in Erie checking out exhibits at the Bayfront Convention Center and socializing. But they're also setting an agenda to lobby for the issues that impact their jobs and their health and well-being.
Two health issues linked to their work, cancer rates and PTSD are at the forefront of their agenda.
According to a study from NIOSH, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, from their job related exposures firefighters face 9% greater cancer diagnosis rate and 14% increase in cancer deaths when compared with the general population.
Also, the cumulative impact of the tragedy and death they see leads to high rates of PTSD, post traumatic stress disorder.
Dave Chiaramonte, President of the PPFFA said what affects them could affect you. "You don't want somebody rolling up to your house that's distracted, you want them to be on their game, treat you or put your fire out or whatever you need, you want them on the top of their game."
So firefighters will lobby Harrisburg to get PTSD covered as an on the job injury for police, fire fighters and EMS workers, opening up more avenues of treatment than just taking a sick day. "We count on each other at a very very crucial time when we're at fires or car accidents or whatever and you know everybody wants to know that the guy next to him is at their peak," said Erie fire fighter Darren Hart, PR spokesperson for Erie Firefighter Local 293, "and this way we can try to ensure that as best as possible."
They will also work to help departments secure more state grants to pay for expensive equipment needs including fire trucks or fire hall overhauls.
The firefighters will spend the next couple of days exploring ideas to keep firefighters and the municipalities they serve safer.