In a recent study of workers’ compensation claims, malignant neoplasms and tumors (cancers, carcinomas, sarcomas) were the leading cause of death for firefighters at 84.6%, representing a fatality rate of 993.7 per 100,000 for the years 2007 to 2021. This finding shows firefighters are on average almost twice as likely to develop cancer than the 43% rate reported by the general population. Further, the rate showed an upward trend over the time period, from 53 in 2007, peaking at 126 in 2020, before declining to 94 in 2021.

Provinces with the most fatality claims caused by cancer, with a collective total of 1,062 fatalities, include:

  1. Ontario: 654 claims, almost four times as many as the following province; Peaked in 2017 with 89 claims
  2. Alberta: 165 claims; Peaked in 2020 with 31 claims
  3. British Columbia: 135 claims; Peaked in 2007 with 39 claims
  4. Quebec: 108 claims; Quebec shows a consistent pattern, with number of claims remaining stable.

The second leading cause of fatality was traumatic injury at 6.5% of claims, and a rate of 76.0 fatalities per 100,000, followed by cardiovascular disease at 4.2% of fatality claims, and respiratory diseases with 2.6% of claims. Data showed that traumatic injury fatality is more likely for firefighters in age-group 65 and over, with 826 deaths and 54.7% of all deaths.

Moreover, there was a 231% increase in time-loss claims, from 3.59% in 2007 to 11.89% in 2021, with traumatic injury representing the leading cause with 80.6% of claims, followed by mental health claims, at 5.9% of all time-loss claims. Those in age-group 45-49 were the most likely to experience mental health related claims, representing an association between age and susceptibility to mental health-related claims among firefighters. In addition, there was a substantial and constant increase in mental health-related claims from 18 cases in 2007 to 382 cases in 2021, with a noticeable uptick starting in 2011.

Provinces with the most time-loss claims for mental health with a collective total of 1,443 claims, include:

  1. Ontario: 631 claims, almost twice as many as the following province; Peaked in 2021 with 188 claims
  2. Alberta: 390 claims; Peaked in 2021 with 106 claims
  3. British Columbia: 273 claims; Peaked in 2021 with 56 claims
  4. Quebec: 149 claims; Peaked in 2021 with 32 claims

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