Firefighters who battled the Tubbs Fire in 2017 have tested for high levels of toxic exposure according to a study released yesterday.
The study, conducted by the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation, found the firefighters’ blood and urine samples showed elevated mercury levels as well as elevated levels of chemical compounds associated with firefighting foams.
High levels of these toxins are associated with an increased risk of cancer. The study examined 148 firefighters who battled the Tubbs Fire in Napa, Sonoma and Lake counties. The blaze killed 22 people and burned more than 34,000 acres.
Most of the firefighters did not have adequate protection from the toxic smoke, which is worse in urban areas. And thanks to climate change and other factors, firefighters find themselves in urban areas more often than before.
Formed in 2006, the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation provides cancer screenings for active and retired firefighters. It also helps newly diagnosed firefighters navigate the healthcare maze by helping them with doctor referrals and information.
How to prevent and keep yourself safe in a fire
As we head into fire season, make sure you’re prepared in case of a house fire. Guidelines to follow include:
• Under California law, one fire extinguisher is required for every 3,000 square feet of floor area. Homes less than 3,000 square feet require only one extinguisher.
• All homes built before 1974 must have at least one smoke alarm. Effective 2014, smoke alarms are required in every sleeping room, outside of each sleeping room, and on every floor.
• In apartment buildings, landlords are responsible for maintaining alarms. If you hear an alarm “chirp,” tell your landlord right away because it means the battery needs to be replaced.
• Make sure everyone in your household knows two ways to escape from every room in the home.
• Make sure everyone knows how and when to call 911.
• Teach your kids how to stop, drop and roll.
• Don’t leave portable heaters, candles or cooking unattended.
• Don’t smoke.