CTIF Firefighters' Health Commission
Firefighters risk severe injury or even their lives every time they are called to an incident to save lives of humans, animals, our nature, environment and private or national property. They will never turn their backs on society.
However, firefighters also risk long-term health problems such as occupational cancers, as well as PTSD and other mental health related issues.
The focus for The Health Commission work is to inform about the different risks and prevention based on science, studies, technology, experience, and Best Practices in a way that can be used as guidelines for fire services around the world.
The long-term risks can unfortunately not be eliminated entirely but we can and are obligated to do our utmost to reduce the risks as much as possible.
Occupational cancers and mental illnesses should be recognized through regulations and legislation as work related injuries and also be compensated as such.
The Health Commission in this new form was launched in a two-day meeting in Paris, France in 2019 and we meet physical at least once every year. This has however not been possible in 2020 and 2021 due to the corona pandemic. We meet whenever we need through online platforms.
The Health Commission are interested in additional members who have interest and practical/theoretical knowledge in the issues described above.
The CTIF Health Commission are currently working on a number of articles about how to make a healthier life as a firefighter.
Firefighters often work in very tough and dangerous conditions and are confronted with a whole range of hazards, and they carry heavy burdens. Mentally, they also have to process a lot of death and destruction encountered on the job.
Firefighters often risk their own life and health to deal with everyday calls to protect life, property and the environment. Firefighters never turn their backs on society. No matter what. However, in order to be able to do the job with a minimum of mistakes and avoiding potentially fatal outcomes, firefighters need to be strong and healthy both physically and mentally when entering the profession. And they need to stay that way throughout their whole career.
This article focuses on nutrition and hydration and how we as firefighters can eat and drink in an intelligent way to stay healthy and to avoid severe and potential life-threatening diseases and problems. Download and read full article as PDF here
Minimising firefighters’ exposure to toxic fire effluents
An independent report from the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), commissioned by the FBU.
This report provides background information, statistics, resources and actions vital for improving firefighters’ health and well-being, keeping them safe and preventing the contamination which otherwise will lead to serious health conditions resulting in either life-changing problems and/or premature death.
"What you need to know about occupational cancer for firefighters" is a PDF-magazine meant to enlighten and touches upon some of the most critical areas of BFC’s work. That is why you find interviews with various experts in the magazine, and in addition, there will be links in or around the individual texts that lead to further information on the subject.
Working as a firefighter is both rewarding and exciting but it can also scar the mind and the body, being it´s a job with considerable uncertainty, danger and potentially traumatizing experiences. A good work environment and an attentive administration are crucial.
Trauma researcher Ask Elklit, professor in Clinical Psychology at The University of Southern Denmark, have been researching traumatized groups for decades.
"It is in the nature of the job to continually have new interventions where difficult problems need to be solved. A given number of those interventions will be extra violent or uncomfortable. Maybe some children die, maybe the victim look similar to your own child, or you show up at a gruesome scene. It can be hard to process and move on from such an experience", Ask Elklit says.
Tommy Baekgaard Kjaer, Denmark
Chair of the Commission since 2020
Contact the CTIF Health Commission at firstname.lastname@example.org
- Public Firefighter for 27 years from early 1987 to late 2014 included:Educated and trained as a fire officer and instructor from the Danish State Fire service.
- Special training in professional rescue diving, high rescue and chemical diving. Also certified in “Reconstruction and Integration of Traumatic Stress”.
- Worked with psychological health for firefighters since 2004 and with occupational cancers since 2010.
- Editor of firefighter magazine from 2005 to 2017.
- Union leader from 2010 to 2020. Member of board since 2006.
- Board member (Vice president) for European Firefighter Unions Alliance EFFUA from 2008 to 2020.
- Founder and president of “Danish Firefighter´s Cancer Organization” BFC since 2013.
- Author of numerous articles about occupational health and safety for firefighters.
- Speaker to firefighter organizations, Universities and Parliaments around the world about occupational health and safety for firefighters.
- Member of various expert and working groups working for a fire safe Europe.
- Lifelong member of honour within “The Nordic Firefighters” NBS 2015.
- Winner of “The Danish Community Awards 2015”
- Chairman of the CTIF Health Commission from 2020.
Martin zur Nieden, Germany
- 1995 to 2002 Resident, Registrar and Consultant at the Department of Anaesthesiology and Intensive Care, University of Cologne
- Training as emergency medicine and intensive care medicine specialist
- since 2002 Senior emergency physician
- Institute for emergency medicine, Fire Brigade Cologne
- since 2003 Member of the german firefighter association health commission.
- sinde 2005 German representative at the CTIF health commission
- 1987 to 1993 Medical officer candidate in the German Air Force
- 1988 to 1995 University of Cologne, Germany
- Final graduation: Medical Doctor
- 1997 Doctor's degree
Sirpa Lusa, Finland
Ms Lusa has been working in the Finnish Institute of Occupational Health since 1987. Nowadays a Senior Researcher (Work ability and working career unit) and Adjunct Professor (Occupational Health). During 2007-2009 she served in the Ministry of the Interior as Project Manager in the project "Operational capacity of rescue services and their personnel" being responsible to developmental activities aimed to promote health and work ability of firefighters.
She has conducted several different kinds of research and development activities concerning health and work ability of firefighters and other rescue workers, for example doctoral thesis "Job demands and assessment of the physical work capacity of firefighters".
Several honors and awards, for example The Gold Award for the work done for Sport sciences in Finland, The Finnish Society for Research in Sport and Physical Education, 2013 and Medal for Merit of Civil Protection, Ministry of the Interior, 2008.
Adolf Schinnerl, Austria
Facharzt für Anästhesie und Intensivmedizin Bezirkskrankenhaus Kufstein Ärztlicher Leiter Rettungsdienst des Landes Tirol since 2011 Active member of Volunteer fire brigade since 1977
Landesfeuerwehrarzt Tyrol since 2005 Chairman „Sachgebiet 1.6 Feuerwehrmedizinischer Dienst“ ÖBFV (Österreichischer Bundesfeuerwehrverband = Austrian Firefighter Federation) since 2017
Colonel Gábor Szomolányi, Hungary
Head Physician for the National Directorate General for Disaster Management
- 1996. Graduate in general medicine
- 1991-1996 University of medicine /Semmelweis Medical University, Budapest/ 1985-1989 High School Révai Miklós, Győr
- Specialization: 2008: Specialist of healthcare management .
- 2002: Specialist of occupational diseases
- 2010-present National Directorate General for Disaster Management Head Physician.
- 1998-2010 Hungarian Border Guard medical doctor, Hungary, Budapest
Dorothee Knauf-Hübel, Luxembourg
Chef de département, Département Santé, Direction Médicale et de la Santé, Corps Grand-Ducal Incendie & Secours
- Professional training
- 1984 – 1987 Nursing studies Siegburg Hospital, Germany
- 1987 Qualified nurse
- 1989 - 1996 Medical Studies at the University of Bonn/Germany
- 1991 - 1992 Medical Studies at the University of Bristol//UK
- 1993 Traineeship Neurosurgery/Out-patients Department Bir Hospital, Kathmandu/Nepal
- 1995 - 1996 Practical year Centre Hospitalier Luxembourg
- 1996 Qualified Medical Doctor
- 1987 - 1988 Nurse Central Operating theatre
- 1988 - 1991 On duty shifts Central operating theatre/laboratory
- 1993 - 1995 On duty shifts Surgical operating theatre
- 1997 - 1998 Medical Doctor, Department of Internal medicine/CH Luxembourg
- 1998 Approbation Medical Doctor
- 1998 - 1999 Medical Doctor and clinical research/trials manager Haematology/Oncology CH Luxembourg
Ministry of Health, Luxembourg
2017 Chef Département Santé, Direction Médicale et de la Santé, Corps Grand-Ducal Incendie & Secours (CGDIS), Luxembourg
- 1999 - 2008 Occupational Health Specialist; Service de Santé au Travail Multisectoriel Luxembourg
- 2002 Environmental medicine qualification
- 2007 PhD in Medicine
- 2008 - 2017 Médecin chef de Service; Division de la Medecine Curative, Directorate of Health,
- 1997 - 2010 Teacher for Internal medicine and psychiatry,Nursing school Luxembourg
- Member of the national examination board for nursing
Portugal (Pending approval from the National Committee)
- Volunteer firefighter from 2003 to 2019, when he professionally joined as intervention team leader.
- Member of a heli-transported team in fighting forest fires from 2013 to 2017. GNR-GIPS
- Rescue and extrication trainer, off-road driving trainer
- Confined space and height rescue technician
- Firefighter Mayday Program Portugal Instructor
- Awareness speaker “Cancer in the fire service”
Iran (Pending approval from the National Committee)
- Red Crescent member 2008 to 2013.
- Civil engineer, Structure engineering, graduated in 2011 from Mehr University.
- Firefighter, Arak fire service 2013 to 2015.
- Fire Officer, Arak fire service from 2015.
- Firefighting instructor from 2019
- Firefighters’ Mental health activist from 2019.