TAMPA, Fla. — Cancer is a growing issue for firefighters all over the world, but departments around the Tampa Bay area are taking steps to lessen the risk.
"Cancer is something that we are getting at a higher rate than others," said Joe Greco, the president of the Tampa Firefighter's Union.
According to the Center for Disease Control, firefighters are 15% more likely to get cancer than any other profession. Experts say most fires can release carcinogens into the air. Those carcinogens can get into a firefighter's skin, especially around their neck.
Greco and his colleagues say that's why they pushed for Tampa city officials to purchase the new particulate blocking hoods.
"They allow us to protect our skin a little better," he said.
The outer layer of the hood blocks the heat. The inner layer is thin and blocks the particulates from getting through.
Greco said the hood is five times more expensive than their previous hoods. But, the CDC says they're 99% effective.
"Spending the money to buy these things will cost a lot less than getting a sick employee," he said.
Clearwater, St. Petersburg, and Pasco County fire departments have purchased similar hoods. Hillsborough County is looking into them.
"Having the ability to protect us from those cancer carcinogens is a big help," Greco said.