California Calls for New Fire Safety Standards

The captain of the San
Francisco Fire Department, Tony Stefani, is speaking out in support of new
state standards for furniture flammability, one that offers better fire safety
and doesn’t require companies to use harmful chemicals.

He will be in Sacramento on March 26th to speak at a public hearing on the

So what has this fire captain of 28 years so fired up? (Pun intended). He is a
cancer survivor who started a non-profit to prevent cancer among firefighters.
His battle against these risky chemicals began after he was diagnosed with a
rare form of cancer that his doctor said was usually only seen in chemical
industry workers. Then he learned that two other firefighters from his station
developed a more common version of the same cancer.
All of us are exposed to
flame retardants, and some are known to cause cancer among other health
problems, but firefighters face a double dose. In addition to these everyday
exposures, firefighters can be exposed to massive amounts of these chemicals
when the chemicals burn.
A recent study found
that the level of a common flame retardant in the blood of 12 firefighters was
3X higher than in the general population. One firefighter in the study had 11x
more of this flame retardant in his blood than average. Women firefighters are
even more at risk. A recent survey found that 10 out of 117 women firefighters
in San Francisco between the ages of 40 and 50 had developed breast cancer,
nearly 6X higher than the rate of the general population.

We are lucky to have people like Tony that has been a tireless advocate for
better fire safety standards. Let’s hope he “sparks” some interest
among the legislators to insure that lawmakers know that we need new standards.


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