Video urges Boston firefighters to guard against cancer

Firefighters can do more to protect themselves from getting occupational-related cancer, the Boston Fire Department preaches in a new video aimed at raising awareness and curbing deaths.

“We made this a priority,” Fire Commissioner Joseph Finn said in an interview with the Globe, “because of skyrocketing cancer rates within the department and the need for us to take some proactive steps to try to mitigate some of these cancers.”

The video, posted on YouTube, features several fire officials, Mayor Martin J. Walsh, doctors, and firefighters discussing the imperativeness of the issue.

“You’re going to know more people that die of cancer from this job than die from running into a burning building,” Joseph Adduci, a Boston fire captain, said in the clip.


Firefighters face two times the cancer risk of regular residents, the video states, and 67 percent will face a cancer diagnosis at some point.

Adduci, himself a cancer survivor, is urging younger firefighters to take the proper precautions before and after battling a fire.

“I was lucky they found mine early,” he said. “I have that in the back of my mind all the time, because if I had waited, I’d be on the my way to my deathbed right now, I can guarantee you that.”

Firefighters should always wear their hoods and breathing apparatus to protect themselves from hazardous chemicals and should properly clean their gear to protect against cancer. They should also wipe their faces immediately after fighting a fire and shower within an hour of returning to the station, according to the video.

The Fire Department, Finn said, hopes to take a “holistic approach” to cancer protection.

“I hope this video . . . nakes them aware [and] makes them think about protection,” Finn said.

He hopes the video will reach fire departments nationally, since the issue affects anyone in the field, he said.


This is the second video released by the department about cancer. A 2015 video showed the toll cancer takes on firefighters, while the video released Tuesday is more uplifting and proactive, Finn said.

“The second video is more about what individual firefighters need to do to protect themselves,” he said, “driving home the points of the importance of making sure you wear all your personal protective equipment.”

J.D. Capelouto can be reached at jd.capelouto@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.