The Illinois Firefighters Association has taken on a statewide and national effort to raise awareness and cut incidence of firefighter cancers.

A new GO GREEN CLEAN neon green firetruck will be on display at the Colona Fire Station (401 1st St., Colona, Ill.) on Saturday, Jan. 14 at 1 p.m.

They will give demonstrations on proper decontamination procedures and discuss risks that firefighters take battling fires every day. Firefighters have a 60% higher risk of dying in the line of duty because of cancer, according to a Thursday release from Colona Fire Chief John Swan, who’s part of the initiative.

January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month.

Firefighters have a much higher risk of developing and dying of cancer than the general population, caused primarily by the carcinogenic toxins in smoke, according to the release. While firefighters all over this nation are exposed to these carcinogens, they often don’t fully understand the extreme danger that smoke will cause.

“They are putting not only themselves at risk, but also their fellow firefighters and even their families who are exposed to soot-covered gear,” the release said. “They may not realize that they can decrease this health risk substantially with proper decontamination of themselves and their gear after a fire.”

The International Association of Fire Chiefs, the Volunteer and Combination Officers Section, and the National Volunteer Fire Council have partnered together to develop and release the Lavender Ribbon Report: Best Practices for Preventing Firefighter Cancer.

This report provides 11 action steps that can be taken to mitigate the risk of cancer for firefighters. These actions can save lives; however, this information is worthless unless it is given to, and actually used by, the firefighters themselves.

The Illinois Firefighters Association has taken the initiative to get the information in this very important document of education, activity, and prevention out to all members of the fire service. They have developed a program that will bring awareness of cancer threats and mitigations directly to all firefighters, no matter where they are.

While they will promote all best practices for preventing firefighters cancer, their r focus is on decontamination after a fire. They will provide training on simple and effective decon procedures.

“After firefighters watch the educational presentation on the TVs in our GO GREEN CLEAN firetruck, we will provide effective decontamination equipment and supplies to each fire department completely free of charge,” Thursday’s release said.

“Our goal is to have a fleet of educational green firetrucks traveling nationwide,” they said, noting they’re currently working on achieving 501(c)3 nonprofit status.

“A project of this size will require substantial funding. We are hoping to partner with likeminded foundations to get decontamination kits into every firehouse in this country,” the release said.

“This campaign will be an ongoing awareness and training program that will continue well into the future. Whether they are a new or more seasoned firefighter, everyone needs to be aware of the hazards we face, and the corrective actions necessary to stay safe. It is our mission and our passion to take this GO GREEN CLEAN Initiative to the forefront of reducing and eliminating the risks of cancer to all firefighters.”