San Mateo County firefighters weren’t just trying to protect homes and lives in the devastating Camp Fire in Northern California. They also took steps to determine the longterm health of firefighters exposed to the immense amount of smoke during large wildfires.
Immediately after coming off the fireline Thursday, San Mateo Strike Team 2276A participated in an exposure study that aims to assess documentable levels of significant, sustained smoke exposure. The research will be conducted by the University of California at San Francisco (UCSF) and is sponsored by the International Association of Fire Firefighters (IAFF).
The image above, posted to the Redwood City Fire Department’s Instagram account, shows a Redwood City firefighter taking part in the study, which was initiated by San Mateo Fire Battalion Chief Joe Novelli.
Last Tuesday, members of the San Francisco Firefighters Cancer Prevention Foundation (SFFCPF) began receiving texts and phone calls about firefighters concerned about the level the toxic exposure at the Camp Fire.
“The question that resonated among all of them was if we were going to be able to get up there to get blood samples to be analyzed,” according to the SFFCPF.
Enloe Hospital in Chico stepped up and offered to draw blood, and the foundation connected with UCSF to conduct the study.
“[UCSF] requested that urine samples be taken and respirator filters be saved to analyze,” the foundation said.
This coming week, “We will have all samples sent to UCSF to be stored until we have permission from an internal review board to go ahead with the analysis,” the foundation said.
The hope is the study “provides information that benefits the entire industry and leads to best practices that support long term health for firefighters,” the foundation said.