Overview & Project Organization


This research project is led by University of Arizona with collaborative support from multiple other research partners, including the University of Miami, National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health; National Fallen Firefighter Foundation, Fire Protection Research Foundation, and others. Initial funding for this project is through a 3-year DHS/FEMA Assistance to Fire Fighter (AFG) Fire Grant.


The goal of the initial 3-year effort of this overall project is to develop and test a framework for establishing a long-term fire fighter multicenter prospective cohort study focused on carcinogenic exposures and effects. This information is essential to guide interventions to reduce the most important carcinogenic exposures and develop treatment options to potentially reverse carcinogenic effects in their early stages.

Data Coordinating Center

•Will design, develop, implement and evaluate a framework for a multicenter prospective cohort study of firefighters and cancer risk, including standardized participant survey data collection tools and analysis protocols sufficient to address the short- and long-term study objectives as well as linkage with long-term outcome data including cancer development.  

Exposure Assessment Center

•Will help develop a self-reported exposure tracking system to be used by the cohort.

•Will evaluate carcinogen exposures in a subgroup of the cohort through analysis of: urine and exhaled breath after specific fire responses and blood at the beginning and end of the year (over 2 years).

•Will identify the primary determinants of exposure in this subgroup and build a carcinogen exposure matrix.

•Will provide improved occupational exposure data for comparison with epigenetic and eventual cancer outcomes, and help guide fire departments to reduce current exposures.

Biomarker Analysis Center


•Will conduct pilot studies of epigenetic markers of carcinogen effect and risk.

•Will compare firefighters with high and low cumulative exposures, and non-firefighter friends of the municipal firefighters (serving as controls).

•Blood and buccal cells will be collected during annual medical surveillance evaluations.