Last summer, the International Agency of Research on Cancer (IARC), the specialized cancer agency of the World Health Organization, declared firefighting as a Group 1 carcinogen, meaning it found sufficient evidence to link the job to the risk of certain cancers. It’s one of only five occupations to receive this designation.

Firefighters told CBC News they have seen a change in how seriously their peers consider this risk. But as departments implement prevention measures and try to hammer messaging home, finite budgets and resources impede them from taking all of the necessary precautionary steps.

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