Tommy Kjaer, firefighter and founder of the Danish Fire Fighters’ Cancer Organisation, explained that fires had become faster growing and more toxic. Coinciding with the day of the Brussels bombings he described scenes where most people were rushing to escape, but firefighters were rushing in to help the victims, disregarding their own safety.
He identified heart problems, brain damage (often misdiagnosed), post-traumatic stress disorder and cancers as the major occupational injuries of firefighters, highlighting carcinogens in fire smoke as the major cause of death, resulting from absorption through lungs, skin and contaminated uniforms and equipment. He stressed the need for scientists and fire fighters’ cancer organisations to continue working together for the common good, for fire fighters, citizens, environment and society. “We are all important pieces of the puzzle to see the bigger picture”.