The World Health Organization has classified occupational exposure as a firefighter as a KNOWN carcinogen. It is nearly impossible to find someone in the fire service that does not have a colleague impacted by occupational illness, especially cancer.
Studies support that decontamination after exposure to smoke and other products of combustion is an important step in reducing the risk of occupational cancers in the fire service. Knowing this, we would assume that all firefighters would be eager to quickly clean up while still on-scene. However, many struggle to make the behavioral changes necessary to implement a post-fire decontamination protocol to lower exposure to carcinogens. While no one is pro-cancer, the culture of a fire department may suggest they are willing to accept the risks they face on the fire ground and after the call by not removing the products of combustion from skin and gear. Changing habits in the fire service is difficult at best!
Based on the best seller, “Atomic Habits: An Easy & Proven Way to Build Good Habits and Break Bad Ones” we have developed a system to break bad habits and build good ones in relation to a post-fire decontamination protocol. This program is developed for every member of the fire service, from the rank-and-file firefighter to the fire chief. Change of this magnitude must occur from the top down AND from the bottom up. Therefore, engaging every rank and position in the fire service is critical.
This program is designed to show the science behind changing habits and the methodology to ensure success in building good habits and breaking bad habits relative to post-fire decontamination. The hope is this will create a healthier fire service that will allow firefighters across the globe to have a healthy career and retirement.