Firemen are present in all branches of the military, as a fire may take place anywhere, be it on ships, aircraft, bases or vehicles. Before 1980, however, when the use of asbestos in the military was abundant, firemen would be a much dangerous rating, as the people who were serving as firemen were interacting with asbestos products regularly. While asbestos is resistant to fire, the products containing it could still catch fire and firemen would have to be in the proximity of the disaster to extinguish it and ensure the safety of the other military personnel.
What was also worrisome is that their protective equipment was lined with asbestos to protect firemen from extreme heat. The more a fireman would use his protective equipment, the more chances of asbestos fibers being released in the air there were, as asbestos fibers could easily detach from it with extensive use. Consequently, the danger was twofold for military firemen, which now places them among the military occupations with the highest risk of developing a terrible disease.
A military rating which is very similar to that of fireman is fire controlman. As one of the most challenging ratings of the navy, fire controlman was established in 1941, after it ceased being part of the gunner’s mate rating. The responsibilities of fire controlmen include performing maintenance on digital computer equipment, subsystems, and systems, as well as operating combat and weapons direction systems. Nevertheless, during the last century, they would also work on equipment that contained asbestos components, such as wire insulation and cable wrap which, in addition to being constantly surrounded by plenty of other asbestos products on the ships, highly increase their risk of developing a life-threatening disease.
The rating of aviation fire control technician also has numerous duties in common with firemen. It was created in 1945 as part of the aviation fire controlman rating. However, it was disestablished in 1991, when it was included in the aviation electronics technician rating. Nowadays, people who worked as aviation fire control technicians are at high risk of developing terrible diseases such as lung cancer or mesothelioma, since they were heavily exposed to asbestos on the job.
Relevant job titles
- fire controlman
- explosive ordinance disposal
- fire inspector
- aviation fire control technician
- fire controlman
- fire control technician submarine