Firefighters fight hidden risks of the job
JACKSON, MO (KFVS) - Fighting fires and going into burning buildings are obvious dangers of the job for a firefighter, but there are other dangers to the job, we can't see.
Imagine going to bed and falling into a deep sleep, your body is in the REM cycle, and a loud alarm goes off letting you know you have to go to an emergency.
"When the alarm goes off usually we are rolling out the door under three minutes so we're going from a dead sleep to on the highway in a very small amount of time," said Captain Rob Grief with Jackson Fire Rescue.
According to the U.S. Fire Administration, a resting heart rate is around 40-beats-per-minute.
"When the alarm goes off your heart rate goes up to about 160, so you are tachycardic," said Grief.
He said, their heart rate usually stays at that 160-beats-per-minute through the duration of the call.
"There's a lot of time we get off work and it's like we've never been to bed, and then there are days that we are refreshed, so you're body gets used to it but it's not good for it," said Grief.
He said there is no way to train your body for this line of work, but they do their best.
"We have a program here that we're doing physical fitness to make a heart-healthy person, said Grief. "And the guys get to go to the gym everyday, they work out for one hour a day to try to improve their health."
The other danger they can't see or feel is the threat of cancer, Grief said more than 50-percent of firefighters are diagnosed with cancer by the age of 60.
"Everything that we do in the fire service, we enter burning buildings, every single particulant has some sort of carcinogen in it which is a cancer causing agent, so we have to be very careful that we're sure that we're wearing our respiratory protection more now than ever," said Grief.
They are at risk before they even leave the station; diesel exhaust is among the leading carcinogens that hurt firefighters.
"We actually have air handlers on the ceilings that come on every time our doors open and we break the plane with our truck they kick on and it purifies our air in here," said Grief.
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