ALBANY, N.Y. (NEWS10) — Fighting fires is unquestionably a dangerous job. But it’s not just the flames that pose a serious threat to the health of firefighters; the chemicals they encounter, and inhale are equally as deadly. Many of these chemicals are known to or suspected to cause cancer, which the CDC says is a leading cause of death among firefighters.

Firefighters are exposed to hundreds of different chemicals on the job. Some are the byproducts of combustion or burning; others come from the materials that are burning. Firefighters breathe these chemicals in, and can also get them on their skin, in their eyes, or ingest them. Reusing contaminated personal protective equipment can also lead to potential exposure.

As a result, every time men and women fight a fire, they are exposed to these carcinogens and increase their risk for bladder, testicular, prostate, kidney, colon, lung, and head and neck cancers, as well as melanoma.

St. Peter’s Health Partners (SPHP) launched a pilot program earlier this year to raise awareness about this risk by providing education to firefighters and encouraging them to have honest conversations with their doctors to obtain the health care they need. As part of that program, SPHP held a free screening in April for members of the Cohoes Fire Department. Of the 25 firefighters screened, 12 had results that required follow-up medical care. On the heels of that successful screening, SPHP is now partnering with the city of Albany to expand the pilot program to its firefighters.

On Saturday, December 10, from 9 a.m. to noon, providers from Capital Region Urology, a practice of St. Peter’s Health Partners Medical Associates, will provide free screenings to 60 Albany firefighters. Providers, including urologic surgeons Jonah Marshall, M.D., and Theodore Chang, M.D., will have additional ultrasound technology on site, courtesy of Mobile Imaging, Ltd., to check for a variety of cancers and other health issues. Additional cancer education will be provided, including information on quitting smoking.