Fire Smoke & Cancer

Firefighters and Cancer

Smoke is a killer. Whether in the depths of  a burning building or in a quiet hospital cancer ward, the realities of the deadly nature of smoke are real. Knowing the enemy and how it operates is crucial to avoiding dangerous exposure to fire smoke. Equally important are training and access to the best resources available when a serious smoke exposure occurs, or when or the doctor grimly tells you, “You have cancer.”

Firefighter Cancer Support Network

The Firefighter Cancer Support Network (FCSN) is the fire service's best resource for firefighter cancer support, awareness, and education. They assist firefighters and EMS providers and their immediate families by providing badge-to-badge support, training, and guidance.

A Personal Story About Fire Smoke and Cancer

LISTEN:  Former FAC Board Chair and retired Fire Chief Mario Treviño is a stage 4 throat cancer survivor and passionate advocate for firefighter health and safety. A former "smoke eater" whose service predated the wide use of SCBA and today's air management best practices, Chief Treviño is now approaching 12 years in remission. He shares his personal story and his insights on how departments can reduce the risk of occupational cancer in a discussion with former Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann on Provident Insurance's Station 1902 podcast.

NIOSH Cancer Study

Findings from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study of cancer among U.S. firefighters

Smoke: Cyanide and Carbon Monoxide

"Smoke: Cyanide and Carbon Monoxide – The Toxic Twins of Smoke Inhalation" An educational supplement  that looks at smoke and smoke inhalation from the viewpoint of different areas of impact and operation.


Firefighter Disorientation Study

This document details a common pattern that emerges when fighting fires in certain types of structures. Smoke plays a critical role in firefighters get lost or disoriented. Combined with running out of air, this has been deadly for firefighters.

Challenges of Wildland Fires

An overview of the challenges faced by wildland firefighters who must deal with unique challenges of smoke in a very different setting from structure fires.


The following resources are courtesy of the Firesmoke Coalition

Chief Rob Schnepp presents a snapshot of smoke and some of its deadly components in “Where There’s Fire, There’s Smoke.”

Chief Shelby Willis on the challenges of her personal battle with cancer and other aspects of how this disease impact firefighters.

"To Hell and Back" cyanide poisoning video

Are you protecting yourself and your crews from toxic smoke during training? Even crews outdoors and on the periphery of a fire can be exposed to lethal smoke. Knowing the toxicity of smoke and wearing your air saves lives.