Lexington, Kentucky (WKYT) – January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month, and firefighters here in Lexington are constantly working to improve their health and safety.

The Lexington Fire Department takes pride in its safety training.

Major Derek Roberts has been a firefighter for nearly 18 years.

Over the past 18 years, he said, firefighters’ safety has improved significantly.

“There are boots and pants, then jackets and hoods. Every firefighter gets this gear,” says Roberts.

This gear does more than just protect you from the heat.

Major Roberts said there is adequate PPE, a hood change program and general decontamination at the fire site.

“After a fire in a building, they come out, take their hoods, clean up dirty things, wash them. blows it away,” Roberts explained of the process.

Safety protocols don’t stop there.

Their health and safety office conducts physical and cancer screenings.

He said two of the cancers they screen for are prostate cancer and bladder cancer.

Roberts said this is important for firefighters who are exposed to carcinogens and chemicals on the job.

“We had a firefighter who was diagnosed with cancer at an annual checkup, so these programs are 100% worth doing and are working for us,” he said.

Firefighters are a rewarding job, but they continue to keep each other safe and healthy, he said.

“We work in a safety culture, so we have a duty to do dangerous things, but we have a duty to do those dangerous things in the safest way possible,” Roberts said.

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