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Firefighter with dirty gear and helmet

CTIF Firefighters' Health Commission

News and Documents from the CTIF Health Commission

The CTIF Health Commission are currently working on a number of articles about how to make a healthier life as a firefighter.

Meetings during 2022:

- July 13, 2022: Online Meeting

- October 20, 2022: Online Meeting

- December 5, 2022: Planned online meeting

Sleep Healthy - Optimizing Sleep for Firefighters

Screenshot of the documentFirefighters operate in a high-stakes environment that requires peak performance and quick decision-making. However, the demanding and unpredictable nature of their work schedules often disrupts their sleep patterns, leading to sleep deprivation and impaired cognitive and physical abilities.

Optimizing sleep for firefighters is crucial to ensure their well-being, performance, and safety. By understanding the challenges they face and implementing evidence-based strategies, firefighters can enhance their sleep quality and duration, leading to improved job performance and overall quality of life.

In this article, the CTIF Health Commission will describe some of the sleep-related challenges that firefighters face, to give the reader a better understanding of the importance of a good healthy sleep pattern, and to help optimize sleep during both shift and personal time.

 

Download and read the entire article

Nutrition and hydration for firefighters

Front page for the CTIF article Nutrition and Hydration for firefighters. Firefighters often work in very tough and dangerous conditions and are confronted with a whole range of hazards, and they carry heavy burdens. Mentally, they also have to process a lot of death and destruction encountered on the job.

Firefighters often risk their own life and health to deal with everyday  calls to protect life, property and the  environment. Firefighters never turn their backs on society. No matter what. However, in order to be able to do the job with a minimum of mistakes and avoiding potentially fatal outcomes,  firefighters need to be strong and healthy both physically and mentally when entering the profession. And they need to stay that way throughout their whole career.

This article focuses on nutrition and hydration and how we as firefighters can eat and drink in an intelligent way to stay healthy and to avoid severe and potential life-threatening diseases and problems. Download and read full article as PDF here

Cancer and Cancer prevention in the Fire Service

Minimizing firefighters exposure to toxins - report coverMinimising firefighters’ exposure to toxic fire effluents

An independent report from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), commissioned by the FBU.  

This report provides background information, statistics, resources and actions vital for improving firefighters’ health and well-being, keeping them safe and preventing the contamination which otherwise will lead to serious health conditions resulting in either life-changing problems and/or premature death. 

READ MORE and download HERE

 

"What you need to know about occupational cancer for firefighters" is a PDF-magazine meant to enlighten and touches upon some of the most critical areas of BFC’s work. That is why you find interviews with various experts in the magazine, and in addition, there will be links in or around the individual texts that lead to further information on the subject.

 

Psychological Health in the Fire Service

Traumatized firefighterWorking as a firefighter is both rewarding and exciting but it can also scar the mind and the body, being it´s a job with considerable uncertainty, danger and potentially traumatizing experiences. A good work environment and an attentive administration are crucial.

Trauma researcher Ask Elklit, professor in Clinical Psychology at The University of Southern Denmark, have been researching traumatized groups for decades. 

"It is in the nature of the job to continually have new interventions where difficult problems need to be solved. A given number of those interventions will be extra violent or uncomfortable. Maybe some children die, maybe the victim look similar to your own child, or you show up at a gruesome scene. It can be hard to process and move on from such an experience", Ask Elklit says.

Read more in the Firefighters´Cancer Society Magazine

 

 

 

Take the Psychological Self Test for PTSD
Commission Members

Tommy KjaerTommy Baekgaard Kjaer, Denmark

Chair of the Commission since 2020

Contact the CTIF Health Commission at tk@brandcancer.dk

  • Public Firefighter for 27 years from early 1987 to late 2014 included:Educated and trained as a fire officer and instructor from the Danish State Fire service.
  • Special training in professional rescue diving, high rescue and chemical diving. Also certified in “Reconstruction and Integration of Traumatic Stress”.
  • Worked with psychological health for firefighters since 2004 and with occupational cancers since 2010.
  • Editor of firefighter magazine from 2005 to 2017.
  • Union leader from 2010 to 2020. Member of board since 2006.
  • Board member (Vice president) for European Firefighter Unions Alliance EFFUA from 2008 to 2020.
  • Founder and president of “Danish Firefighter´s Cancer Organization” BFC since 2013.
  • Author of numerous articles about occupational health and safety for firefighters.
  • Speaker to firefighter organizations, Universities and Parliaments around the world about occupational health and safety for firefighters.
  • Member of various expert and working groups working for a fire safe Europe.
  • Lifelong member of honour within  “The Nordic Firefighters” NBS 2015.
  • Winner of “The Danish Community Awards 2015”
  • Chairman of the CTIF Health Commission from 2020.

 

 

Taina Hanhikoski, SPEK, Finland. Taina Hanhikoski, Finland

Senior Specialist, International Relations, The Finnish National Rescue Association. Ratamestarinkatu 11, 00520 Helsinki, Finland. Spek.fi

Ms. Hanhikoski oversees both EU and nationally funded projects and participates in organizational development and capacity building in international activities.

She is currently vice president of CTIF (International Association of Fire and Rescue Services).

In addition to international connections and networking, she is responsible for resilience relating to third sector – authority cooperation as well as disaster risk reduction and risk management with special focus on weather and climate risks.

She is an expert in EU and Nordic security policies (including EU Civil Protection Mechanism, EU Internal Security Strategy and Nordic cooperation). She is also a Doctoral Researcher at the University of Tampere.

 

Anders Christian GeertsenAnders Christian Geertsen, Norway

Mr Geertsen works as a psychologist and a firefighter in a Norwegian district between the high mountains and the deep fjords.

Originally educated as a traditional boatbuilder with 10 years of experience including work with youth at risk, before change of career to become a psychologist. He has published an academic article about Norwegian firefighters' experiences of rescue work during severe traffic accidents. 

 

Ricardo Daniel Sousa Santos

Ricardo Daniel Sousa Santos, Portugal

Bomberios Voluntarios Dos Carvalhos BVC
Doctor in the Emergency Department in Hospital Eduardo Santos Silva (Vila Nova de Gaia) and Hospital Senhora Oliveira Guimarães (Guimarães), since 01/2023. 
Medical internship, in the areas of Surgery, Medicine, Public Health, Pediatrics and Medicine at Centro Hospitalar Médio Tejo, since 01/2022 till 12/2022.

Nurse in SNS 24, telephone assistance
and advice in the health sector, nationwide, from 02/2017 to 12/2020.

• Emergency Response Coordinator /
Estádio do Dragão – FCP, since 09/2016
• Firefighter Commander of Bombeiros
Voluntários dos Carvalhos, since 10/2023
• Lieutenant of the Portuguese Air Force, from 06/2007 to 07/2014
• Nurse at Hospital Privado dos Clérigos, from 02/2006 to 05/2007
• Nurse at Hospital Eduardo Santos Silva, from 01/2006 to 02/2006
• Firefighter in Bombeiros Voluntários dos Carvalhos, since 01/2003
1. Masters Degree  in Medicine from Porto University, 2021
2. Portuguese Air Force Officer Training Course, 2008
3. Critical Incident Stress Management by the Portuguese Air Force.
4. Degree in nursing, 2005

Martin zur NiedenMartin zur Nieden, Germany
 

  • 1995 to 2002 Resident, Registrar and Consultant at the Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, University of Cologne
  • Training as emergency medicine and intensive care medicine specialist
  • since 2002 Senior emergency physician
  • Institute for emergency medicine, Fire Brigade Cologne
  • since 2003 Member of the german firefighter association health commission.
  • sinde 2005 German representative at the CTIF health commission
  • 1987 to 1993 Medical officer candidate in the German Air Force
  • 1988 to 1995 University of Cologne, Germany
  • Final graduation: Medical Doctor
  • 1997 Doctor's degree

 

Dr Clemens NovakDr Clemens Novak, Austria

Visited the Higher Institute for Technical Education in Braunau.

Studied Medicin ein Innsbruck and Freiburg. Since 2001 General Practitioner and Emergency Physician. Since 2017 Chief Medical Officer of the Upper Austrian Fire Department.

Since 2022 Chairman of the Health Commission of the Austrian Fire Brigade Association.

 

Sirpa LusaSirpa Lusa, Finland

Ms Lusa has been working in the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health since 1987. Nowadays a Senior Researcher (Work ability and working career unit) and Adjunct Professor (Occupational Health). During 2007-2009 she served in the Ministry of the Interior as Project Manager in the project "Operational capacity of rescue services and their personnel" being responsible to developmental activities aimed to promote health and work ability of firefighters.

She has conducted several different kinds of research and development activities concerning health and work ability of firefighters and other rescue workers, for example doctoral thesis "Job demands and assessment of the physical work capacity of firefighters".

Several honors and awards, for example The Gold Award for the work done for Sport sciences in Finland, The Finnish Society for Research in Sport and Physical Education, 2013 and Medal for Merit of Civil Protection, Ministry of the Interior, 2008.      

 

Colonel Gábor SzomoláyiColonel Gábor Szomolányi, Hungary 

Head Physician for the National Directorate General for Disaster Management 

  • 1996. Graduate in general medicine
  • 1991-1996 University of medicine /Semmelweis Medical University, Budapest/ 1985-1989 High School Révai Miklós, Győr
  •  
  • Specialization: 2008:  Specialist of healthcare management .
  •  2002:  Specialist of occupational diseases

Work experience

  • 2010-present   National Directorate General for Disaster Management Head Physician.  
  • 1998-2010      Hungarian Border Guard medical doctor, Hungary, Budapest

 

Dorothee Knauf-HübelDorothee Knauf-Hübel, Luxembourg

Chef de département, Département Santé, Direction Médicale et de la Santé, Corps Grand-Ducal Incendie & Secours

  • Professional training
  • 1984 – 1987    Nursing studies Siegburg Hospital, Germany
  • 1987                 Qualified nurse
  • Studies:
  • 1989 - 1996     Medical Studies at the University of Bonn/Germany
  • 1991 - 1992     Medical Studies at the University of Bristol//UK
  • 1993                 Traineeship Neurosurgery/Out-patients Department Bir Hospital, Kathmandu/Nepal
  • 1995 - 1996     Practical year Centre Hospitalier Luxembourg
  • 1996                 Qualified Medical Doctor
    Professional work
  • 1987 - 1988     Nurse Central Operating theatre
  • 1988 - 1991     On duty shifts Central operating theatre/laboratory
  • 1993 - 1995     On duty shifts Surgical operating theatre
  • 1997 - 1998     Medical Doctor, Department of Internal medicine/CH Luxembourg
  • 1998                 Approbation Medical Doctor 
  • 1998 - 1999     Medical Doctor and clinical research/trials manager Haematology/Oncology CH Luxembourg
    Ministry of Health, Luxembourg
    2017                Chef Département Santé, Direction Médicale et de la Santé, Corps Grand-Ducal Incendie & Secours (CGDIS), Luxembourg
  • 1999 - 2008     Occupational Health Specialist;  Service de Santé au Travail Multisectoriel Luxembourg
  • 2002                 Environmental medicine qualification
  • 2007                 PhD in Medicine
  • 2008 - 2017     Médecin chef de Service;  Division de la Medecine Curative, Directorate of Health,         
  • 1997 - 2010    Teacher for Internal medicine and psychiatry,Nursing school Luxembourg
  • Member of the national examination board for nursing

 

Affiliated members: 

 

Tiago Ribiero, PortugalTiago Riberio, Portugal 

  • Volunteer firefighter from 2003 to 2019, when he professionally joined as intervention team leader.
  • Member of a heli-transported team in fighting forest fires from 2013 to 2017. GNR-GIPS
  • Rescue and extrication trainer, off-road driving trainer
  • Confined space and height rescue technician
  • Firefighter Mayday Program Portugal Instructor
  • Awareness speaker “Cancer in the fire service”

 

 

 

Otto DrozdCTIF EC contact person:

Otto Drozd, USA

Executive Secretary, Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association | NFPA

Chief Otto Drozd has 35 years of firefighting experience, including 20 years as a fire chief in Florida and Texas. He holds bachelor's and master's degrees in Public Management and is a distinguished graduate of the U.S. National Fire Academy Executive Fire Officer Program. Chief Drozd's leadership led to the accelerated development of NFPA 3000™, the Standard for an Active Shooter/Hostile Event Response (ASHER) Program. He is a frequent presenter at national and international conferences and has held key positions in prominent firefighting associations.

 

Graph over the the estimated risks for firefighters developing cancer. Firefighters risk severe injury or even their lives every time they are called to an incident to save lives of humans, animals, our nature, environment and private or national property. They will never turn their backs on society.

However, firefighters also risk long-term health problems such as occupational cancers, as well as PTSD and other mental health related issues.

The focus for The Health Commission work is to inform about the different risks and prevention based on science, studies, technology, experience, and Best Practices in a way that can be used as guidelines for fire services around the world.

The long-term risks can unfortunately not be eliminated entirely but we can and are obligated to do our utmost to reduce the risks as much as possible.

Occupational cancers and mental illnesses should be recognized through regulations and legislation as work related injuries and also be compensated as such. 

The Health Commission in this new form was launched in a two-day meeting in Paris, France in 2019 and we meet physical at least once every year. This has however not been possible in 2020 and 2021 due to the corona pandemic. We meet whenever we need through online platforms.

The Health Commission are interested in additional members who have interest and practical/theoretical knowledge in the issues described above.