Firefighters are known for their bravery and willingness to put themselves in harm’s way to protect others. However, the dangers they face extend beyond flames and smoke. Fire personnel is at an increased risk of developing cancer due to exposure to foam-containing poly-fluoroalkyl substances (PFAS), commonly used in firefighting.
As a result, fire personnel need to understand their legal rights and options if they have been diagnosed with cancer related to foam exposure. This article will provide an overview of foam exposure and cancer in fire service members and information on protecting your legal rights and seeking compensation for your injuries.
Understanding Firefighter Foam and Cancer
Aqueous film-forming foam (AFFF), also known as firefighter foam, is frequently utilized to extinguish fires that involve flammable liquids such as gasoline, oil, and jet fuel. The foam contains PFAS, which are chemicals that have been linked to cancer and other health problems. PFAS are known as “forever chemicals” because they do not break down in the environment and can accumulate in the body over time.
Fire service members exposed to foam during training exercises and emergency response situations are at an increased risk of developing breast, prostate, and kidney cancer.
The Guardian published that firefighters face a significantly higher risk of succumbing to certain types of cancer than the general population. The study found that firefighters are over three times more likely to die from certain cancers than the average person. It is believed to be linked to their exposure to hazardous chemicals while fighting fires.
Fire service members must understand the potential health risks associated with foam exposure and take steps to protect themselves.
Legal Rights for Firefighters Affected by Foam Exposure
Fire personnel diagnosed with cancer related to foam exposure may have legal rights and options to seek compensation for their injuries. In many cases, manufacturers of AFFF knew about the potential health risks associated with PFAS but failed to warn firefighters and other consumers.
As a result, fire personnel can file lawsuits against these manufacturers to hold them accountable for their negligence and seek compensation for medical expenses, lost wages, and other damages.
Recent data shows that the number of lawsuits filed by firefighting professionals and other first responders diagnosed with cancer related to foam exposure is on the rise. According to the Chicago-Kent Journal of Environmental and Energy Law, a federal judge in South Carolina consolidated over 1800 lawsuits.
Firefighters and other plaintiffs filed these lawsuits against several AFFF manufacturers in one multidistrict litigation (MDL) case. The plaintiffs allege that the manufacturers knew about the risks associated with PFAS but failed to warn consumers and continued to market and sell their products without adequate safety measures.
Building a Strong Legal Case
To build a strong case, gathering evidence demonstrating the link between foam exposure and cancer diagnosis is crucial. One key piece of evidence in a firefighter foam cancer lawsuit is medical records and expert testimony, which can establish a clear connection between foam exposure and cancer diagnosis.
Another necessary step in building a sturdy firefighter foam cancer lawsuit is selecting the right attorney. According to TorHoerman Law LLC, an experienced firefighting foam attorney can guide you through every step of the legal proceedings. They can help you gather evidence, accurately assess the extent of the damages caused, and determine the compensation you should seek through legal action.
Additionally, documentation of the firefighter’s exposure to foam during training exercises and emergency response situations can help strengthen the case.
Potential Outcomes of Foam Exposure Lawsuits
Foam exposure lawsuits filed by firefighting professionals and other first responders can have a variety of potential outcomes, including settlements, verdicts, and appeals. The result will depend on several factors, including the strength of the evidence presented, the attorneys’ skill, and the specific details of each case.
One potential outcome of foam exposure lawsuits is a settlement between the plaintiffs and the defendants. In some cases, manufacturers of AFFF may settle a case before it goes to trial to avoid the negative publicity and financial risks of a trial.
Another potential outcome is a verdict in favor of the plaintiffs. It may occur after a trial, where a judge or jury determines that the manufacturers of AFFF were negligent and liable for the plaintiff’s injuries.
Protecting Yourself from Foam Exposure
Here are some steps that can be taken to minimize the risk of exposure:
- Wear protective gear: It is crucial to wear appropriate personal protective equipment (PPE) when dealing with AFFF, including gloves, goggles, and respiratory protection.
- Follow proper decontamination procedures: After exposure to AFFF, it is necessary to follow decontamination procedures to remove the foam from your skin and clothing. It may include showering and changing clothes as soon as possible.
- Advocate for safer alternatives: Firefighting professionals can also advocate for using safer alternatives to AFFF, such as fluorine-free firefighting foam.
Recent data shows that usage of fluorine-free firefighting foam is on the rise. According to Bloomberg, the demand for more environmentally-friendly firefighting foam has increased recently. Many industries, such as aviation and oil and gas, are now adopting this type of foam to reduce their ecological footprint.
This increase is driven by growing concerns about the health risks associated with PFAS and a push towards safer alternatives.
Resources for Firefighters and Their Families
Firefighting professionals and their families affected by foam exposure and cancer can access various resources to help them navigate this difficult situation. Here are some of the key resources available:
- Cancer support groups: There are many support groups for fire service members and their families affected by cancer. These groups provide emotional support and practical advice for dealing with cancer treatment and recovery challenges.
- Legal assistance: Fire service members considering filing a foam exposure lawsuit can seek legal assistance from experienced attorneys.
- Medical assistance: Fire service members and their families can also seek medical assistance from doctors and other healthcare professionals specialized in cancer treatment.
- Government resources: The U.S. government provides various resources for fire brigade members and their families, including the Firefighter Cancer Registry, which collects data on cancer in firefighters to improve prevention and treatment efforts.
Foam exposure is a serious health risk for fire brigade members and other first responders. Exposure to AFFF, which contains PFAS chemicals, has been linked to an increased risk of cancer and other health problems. In addition, as seen in this article, fire brigade members and their families have legal rights and options to pursue compensation for damages caused by foam exposure.
By understanding their legal rights and accessing the available resources, firefighters and their families can seek justice and support in the face of this critical health risk.