Rapid City firefighters receive protective hoods to prevent cancer

Firefighter health
Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 5:14 PM CDT
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RAPID CITY, S.D. (KOTA) - Firefighters run headfirst into dangerous situations, oftentimes putting their lives at risk to save another person. But that danger doesn’t end when the uniform comes off.

In fact, one of the major health concerns for firefighters is cancer.

“Firefighters have a 9% greater chance of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% greater chance of dying from cancer than the average U.S. population. So, their exposure to cancer causing particles every time they go into a structure fire are very high,” said Chief Brian Povandra with the Fire Operations Division of the Rapid City Fire Department.

To increase protection from these particles, the Rapid City Fire Department purchased new protective hoods for their firefighters. In addition to other safety measures, the hood is an upgrade; blocking 99.9% of particles from reaching the skin.

“We do a lot of safety measures -- from the protective gear that they wear to decomp procedures to now these particulate blocking hoods -- to try and minimize the exposure to those cancer-causing particulates and help keep our firefighters safer,” said Povandra.

The purchase of the hoods was made possible by a donation from community members John and Mary Laverty.