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 Hot Topics - Healthy Firefighter - firefighter-hero-1920x720

Hot Topics - Healthy Firefighter

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Committed to the Health and Safety of Canadian Firefighters

Over the course of the past few years as concern and awareness regarding occupational cancer has escalated, most Fire Departments acknowledge Fire Ground where a majority of the dangers that can adversely impact the health and safety of today’s Firefighters.

Dräger offers a variety of products that address health and safety during all phases of a fire — throughout the Fire Ground, and training. Every Fire Department and each jurisdiction varies. The products and firefighting tactics highlighted in this document only provide some suggestions of potential use. Chiefs and Command Officers may consider how to optimize the use of Dräger resources on the Fire Ground.

Reducing Risk for Cancer and Other Fire-Related Conditions


The contributions that job-related exposures have in illnesses such as cancer has grown steadily in recent years. One important reason for that: the amount of potentially carcinogenic substances in modern building materials. A growing body of research and data shows that harmful correlation.

But how can the current situation be improved? First and foremost by raising an awareness about this critical topic and by providing firefighters with the right knowledge and equipment to protect themselves effectively. Before, during and after a call.

Wearing SCBA or cleaning personal protective equipment after returning from a call helps to minimise the risk of getting exposed to carcinogenic substances. Find out what else you can do to address this serious health and safety issue in the fields of Training, Incident and Readiness below.

Cancer Awareness - TrainingPlay video

Cancer Awareness - Training

Efficient cancer prevention starts with the physical health and fitness of firefighters. Another important building block in minimizing the cancer risk is the enhancement of daily routines and workflows. New standard operating procedures, that incorporate comprehensive trainings, must also be established.

Cancer Awareness - IncidentPlay video

Cancer Awareness - Incident

The sole focus of firefighters is on saving others' lives. But too often it is overlooked that they themselves could become victims: by getting exposed to hazardous substances. The risk is much higher than in other professions. Recent studies show that impressively. So the question arises: what needs to change and how?  

Cancer Awareness - ReadinessPlay video

Cancer Awareness - Readiness

After returning to the safe surroundings of the fire station firefighters still could get exposed to carcinogenic substances. The residues of gases are still present on the PPE. A proper self-handling, the cleaning and maintenance of equipment is therefore as equally important as the protection during an incident.

Related downloads

A poster that can save lives

How can you minimise the risk of direct contamination? Which standard operating procedures are compulsory? Our info poster shows important prevention tips at a glance.

Cancer Awareness: Training

Fitness should not be under-valued as a preventive solution. Furthermore, the value of proper training procedures and regular medical check ups cannot be overlooked. Find out more in this whitepaper.

Cancer Awareness: Incident

How can routines and workflows be improved? Is there an efficient way to mitigate exposures and adjust standard operating procedures? Find out more in this whitepaper.

Cancer Awareness: Readiness

There is an increasing demand in the fire service for new processes which emphasize better asset management and safe cleaning processes. Find out more in this whitepaper. 

Toxic Twins

Dangerous Toxic Twins - Toxic Gases for FirefightersPlay video

The “Toxic Twins” - Dangerous individually, more deadly in combination

Two of the most dangerous smoke-borne gases you can encounter are carbon monoxide (CO) and hydrogen cyanide (HCN). They’re called the “toxic twins” because where you find one, you usually find the other. Each gas is toxic on its own. But in combination they are exponentially worse – combining to form a chemical asphyxiant that can cause heart attacks. Regarding gas detection, this means, measuring each gas against its individual threshold does not provide effective protection. But it is crucial to detect the occurence of the two of them together. Several Dräger gas detectors come with the patented ability to do that. 

Dräger X-am® 5800

Dräger X-am® 5800

​The X-am® 5800 multi-gas detector measures up to six gases and is equipped with a shock-resistant CatEx SR sensor. With the Dräger Gas Detection Connect software, it offers live data transmission and powerful fleet management. Designed for personal monitoring, the X-am 5800 offers the highest level of safety at a low cost of ownership.

Product details

Related downloads

Understanding the Toxic Twins: HCN and CO

Check out our whitepaper, Understanding the Toxic Twins: HCN and CO. Learn about the lesser known twin, HCN – which is 35 times more toxic than CO – and how to protect yourself.

Toxic Twins Infographic
Toxic Twins Infographic 2023 preview 9:11

We’ve created an infographic poster that gives you the facts about the toxic twins at a glance. It’s a great way to help the firefighters in your department understand this danger and how to protect themselves.

Safety training systems at a fire ground

Every Fire Ground Is a HazMat Scene

An Underwriters Laboratory study from 2014 highlighted the change in building materials as well as contents of structures that lead to faster combustion at a higher heat with more toxic by-products.

With the recent recognition of rising rates of occupational cancer among Firefighters, these elements have combined together to lead toward protecting Firefighters more and instituting some challenging changes on how Firefighters traditionally operated.

At the very core may be overcoming some of the common fire-ground behaviors that became accepted practice or normative behaviors prior to the rise of occupational health risks among Canadian Firefighters. Among the best examples is that of “salty” gear, meaning that a turnout ensemble and helmet with signs of soot from fighting a fire is considered a sign of tenure or credibility. 

Ask us how we can help keep your team healthy

Safeguarding Our Protectors: Canada's New Commitment to Firefighter Health

In 2023, the Canadian Government passed Bill C-224, led by Minister of Health Jean-Yves Duclos and MP Sherry Romanado, to fight cancers in firefighting. January 2024 will mark the first "Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month", focusing on cancer risks and prevention in firefighting. This initiative boosts Health Canada's role in safeguarding firefighters from hazardous chemicals and promotes research, cancer screenings, and better prevention and treatment methods.

Dräger aligns with this mission, dedicated to enhancing firefighter health and safety for over 100 years. We leverage ongoing research to address modern firefighting challenges. Our commitment includes providing advanced protection gear against toxic gases and carcinogens, delivering real-time hazard information to firefighting teams, and offering actionable insights for on-scene decision-making. Additionally, Dräger focuses on creating controlled environments for training firefighters in safe and healthy practices.

Learn more about Bill C-224

On-site cleaning

Initial, on-site cleaning plays a vital role in reducing long-term dangers

Initial, on-site cleaning (“gross decon”) must occur before stepping outside the Warm Zone, whether it’s during the Incident itself or in the accompanying processes of Overhaul and Investigation.

That line, at the border between the Warm and Cold Zones, is known as the Decontamination Line. It assures that personnel and equipment exposed to the IDLH have been processed through initial, on-site cleaning.

Moving from the Hot Zone, through the Warm Zone and eventually to the Cold Zone, a Decontamination Corridor  may be established, both for consolidation of resources and accountability. This also serves as a good hand-off for victims found within the IDLH that may need medical evaluation or attention.

Fireman cleans the scene of the fire

Is a “real” firefighter, a “dirty” firefighter?

The popular image of a post-event firefighter covered with soot has become an iconic vision of a “strong” person. However, the truth is that this firefighter is engulfed in toxic byproducts that can cause cancer years after the incident. That’s why we need to question the myth that a “real” firefighter is a “dirty” firefighter.

There are numerous ways firefighters are exposed to carcinogens. One common danger is when firefighters remove their SCBA too soon, before the air has been deemed safe. This can cause direct exposure through inhalation and skin exposure to toxic gases. To identify the presence of toxic and carcinogenic substances, it is important to analyze fire suppression at the incident and make sure that best practices are followed.

Safe Handling of Contaminated PPE


After extinguishing a fire, there may still be a health risk for emergency personnel: even though there are no more flames to be seen, toxic or carcinogenic substances may still be present in the ambient air or on PPE.

Toxic soot particles settle in the surroundings – and also on the clothing and equipment of the fire fighters. A few rules should be followed when on site and also when cleaning the equipment in the workshop, in order to minimize the danger from contact with these particles. Learn more about the dangers, after the danger.

How to… Clean a Dräger SCBAPlay video

Cleaning, safe-handling, and maintenance are critical

After the flames die and the fire has been extinguished, toxins from fumes and soot linger on the surface of the firefighter’s personal protective equipment, mask and skin. It is imperative that personal protective equipment be properly cleaned and handled so potential toxins are not spread to other people in transportation vehicles, fire stations, or their homes. Just as decontamination is the only way to remove toxins from PPE, showering immediately after the incident is the only way to remove toxins from the skin.

It’s therefore fair to conclude that a professional firefighter does not need to be portrayed as “dirty and sooty” – but rather as someone who dons clean PPE and conscientiously follows the necessary safe-handling workflow routines. This is how they save their own lives, in addition to the lives of others.

How to deal with overhaul risksPlay video

How to deal with overhaul risks

After a fire is extinguished, it is important to stay away from toxic gases, liquids and particles. In our animation, you see how to avoid hazards that appear when the obvious danger is over.

Preview Minimizing Health Risk 4_3

Reduce your risk of exposure to contaminants

Check-out how to lower your health risks by avoiding cross-contamination and receive more information about how to remove personal protective equipment post-fire step by step.

Download poster

Physical Fitness for Firefighters

Dräger Fire Service Training: Functional Fitness (Part I)Play video

Fitness is key for fighting fire

Firefighting requires endurance, strength and stamina. You have to clear obstacles, haul heavy equipment and save human lives – all under time constraints, while wearing complete firefighting gear, and in high temperatures. This combination can be dangerous, as many firefighter fatalities can be traced back to heart failure, circulatory collapse and overexertion. You can, however, protect yourself with a regular workout that strengthens your body and prepares you for the demands of your job, as well as eating a well-rounded diet. See below for exercises you can do anywhere, recipes that fuel the body with required nutrients, and Dräger products that always keep you ready for the next call.

Get fit, stay fit – from anywhere

Firefighters rarely have the time or energy to visit a fitness studio after their shift. Chris Cerci, firefighter and Firefighter Combat Challenge Champion, shows you how to improve your conditioning effectively in these videos. They are easy to do at the fire station or at home and only take 15-minutes to complete.

Dräger Fire Service Training: Functional Fitness (Part II)

Functional Fitness (Part II)

Dräger Fire Service Training: Core Training

Core Training

Dräger Fire Service Training: Stretching


workout routine poster

Fitness exercises made just for you

These workouts were specially designed for firefighters, designed for building muscle, strength training and stretching – at a glance.

Download workout poster


Fuel your body with healthy food

Those whose jobs are physically demanding should fuel their bodies and fill up their energy reserves properly at every meal. Download our Fire Services cookbook for some delicious and nutritious recipes.

Download cookbook

Always be ready for the next call


Training galleries

With our solutions, you can do both: work on your fitness and prepare for the specific challenges of your mission.


Alcohol and Drug Detection

Dräger alcohol and drug detecting devices are trusted by professionals around the globe. Our stringent quality controls ensure screening equipment delivers reliable results.

Get in touch with Dräger

Contact Us Safety

Draeger Safety Canada Ltd.

2425 Skymark Ave, Unit 1
Mississauga, ON L4W 4Y6

+1 877-372-4371