Among the many dangers our courageous frontline workers face, firefighters have a significantly higher risk of contracting cancer due to the health hazards encountered while on the job. Scott Beecher, President of Ward Diesel Filter Systems was Committee Chair for the Lavender Ribbon Report. The Report developed in partnership with the NVFC and VCOS, was released in August 2018. The Lavender Ribbon Report, along with its 2021 update, attempts to educate firefighters and the public alike on the increased occupational risks firefighters face leading to higher levels of various forms of cancer in this demographic.

The report provides actionable steps to be implemented in every fire department for the greater well-being of those working in the facility. Alerting the masses to the reality of the epidemic that is preventable firefighter occupational cancer, the report is a moving and informative guide on necessary changes that must be made in order to preserve the well-being of those selflessly serving the public.

Following the initial “11 Best Practices for Preventing Firefighter Cancer” 2018 report, the 2021 update provides eye-opening first-hand accounts from workers in the field on their own experiences with firefighter occupational cancer. The update also includes examples of the suggested steps being implemented in departments across the country for the improved health of its workers.

Along with many factors, the shift from mainly wood and paper-based fires to chemical and toxin-based fires has dramatically escalated the level of risk modern firefighters are facing. From the stressed importance of wearing their PPE/SCBA gear correctly to the pertinence of proper cleaning and sanitization practices, the Lavender Ribbon Report is a call to action, urging the implementation of crucial steps for the sake of saving lives. In March of 2022, this important work garnered the interest of Senator Paul S. Sarbane and earned the Fire Service Safety Leadership Award (see photos below).

Ward Diesel Filter Systems is proud to be a leader in our field, pioneering the way fellow departments and the public view the safety and working conditions of firefighters across the nation. It is imperative to prioritize the health and safety of those who do their best to keep us safe. We are passionate about the content developed for the Lavender Ribbon Report and continue to raise public awareness of its importance. The Lavender Ribbon Report is a key and crucial step in turning calculated risks to preventable risks.