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Seasoned Sacramento Injury Attorneys

Common Firefighting Occupational Illnesses and Injuries


Firefighters face some of the most dangerous occupational hazards of any profession. Strenuous physical work in perilous environments is an everyday occurrence for firefighters around the United States. In Southern California, our fire departments are faced with the responsibility of protecting residents from the threat of raging wildfires.

In addition to the physical demands of the job, firefighters are also especially susceptible to developing occupational diseases over time.


Cancer is the most significant risk to the health of firefighters. The presence of smoke, chemicals, and poisonous building materials expose firefighters to a higher risk of occupational disease, especially cancer, than most other workers.

The following types of cancers are commonly associated with firefighting:

  • Lung cancer
  • Testicular cancer
  • Lymphoma
  • Leukemia
  • Brain cancer
  • Breast cancer
  • Colorectal cancer
  • Myeloma

Non-Cancerous Lung Conditions

Smoke inhalation is one of the most well-known risks of firefighting. The constant exposure to smoke causes many firefighters to develop illnesses of the lungs later in life. Firefighters are susceptible to non-cancerous lung diseases such as tuberculosis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

Heart Disease

Heart disease is another common occupational risk for firefighters: Artery narrowing and heart enlargement, which can lead to cardiac arrest or heart attack, are conditions that can develop as a result of years of firefighting.

Toxic Exposure

Firefighters can be exposed to a variety of toxic substances during their career, and develop an illness later in life as a result. Carbon monoxide, benzene, hydrogen chloride, and asbestos are just some of the chemicals a firefighter may encounter while working.

The significant risks associated with a career in firefighting qualify employees for workers’ compensation insurance that differs from typical benefits plans. At Smolich and Smolich, we represent firefighters who were injured or fell ill as a result of their work. If you or a loved one fought fires and was harmed, contact us today to discover your options.

Contact us online or call (916) 571-0400 to schedule a free initial case evaluation with our team of attorneys.