Firefighters are the first responders in emergencies. Every community depends upon their strength, bravery and clear quick thinking to protect lives and property. What happened when first responder cell towers were placed on fire stations to facilitate communications between police and medical personnel? Within a week of installation many firefighters developed unusual symptoms of headaches, fatigue, insomnia, memory loss, confusion, nausea and weakness. After a time, firefighters in stations with adjacent cell towers were found to have forgotten CPR or became lost responding to a fire in a city they grew up in. A neurologic study was commissioned by the International Association of Firefighters (IAFF), led by Dr. Gunnar Heuser, to determine if there was any evidence of brain dysfunction in those exposed for long periods to first responder cell towers. Firefighters then began fighting cell towers as well as fires.
Neurologic Symptoms in Firefighters Match Brain SPECT Scans
The study by Dr. Heuser was described in an IAFF Cell Tower Resolution Health and Safety Fact Sheet. “ A pilot study was conducted in 2004 of six California fire fighters working and sleeping in stations with towers. The study, conducted by Gunnar Heuser, M.D., PhD. of Agoura Hills, CA, focused on neurological symptoms of six fire fighters who had been working for up to five years in stations with cell towers. Those symptoms included slowed reaction time, lack of focus, lack of impulse control, severe headaches, anesthesia-like sleep, sleep deprivation, depression, and tremors. Dr. Heuser used functional brain scans – SPECT scans – to assess any changes in the brains of the six fire fighters as compared to healthy brains of men of the same age. Computerized psychological testing known as TOVA was used to study reaction time, impulse control, and attention span. The SPECT scans revealed a pattern of abnormal change which was concentrated over a wider area than would normally be seen in brains of individuals exposed to toxic inhalation, as might be expected from fighting fires. Dr. Heuser concluded the only plausible explanation at this time would be RF radiation exposure. Additionally, the TOVA testing revealed among the six fire fighters delayed reaction time, lack of impulse control, and difficulty in maintaining mental focus.”
Susan Foster, who organized the 2004 pilot study, filed a formal affidavit to the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) in 2013 about the study as well as research on RF radiation causing harm. This review was prompted by the overwhelming passage of IAFF Resolution 15 introduced by California firefighters at the IAFF convention in August 2004. Resolution No. 15 called for a $1 million study of firefighters across the US and Canada living and working in stations with cell towers, and further called for a moratorium on the placement of cell towers on their fire stations until the study could be conducted. Unfortunately Telecommunications Acts in both countries trumped the spirit of the moratorium, and the IAFF failed to fund the $1 million study
She stated in the affadavit, “The failure to protect our populations based on biological effects of exposure to RF (microwave) radiation is an inherent shortcoming of the current FCC policy with respect to cell tower emissions and cell phone absorption. The adverse biological impact of these exposures are grossly underestimated. The FCC does not have independent science that can justify the massive exposure to RF radiation that currently exists from cell towers and cell phones. The story told by our small pilot study of firefighters in California should be a warning with respect to cell phone absorption levels.” https://ecfsapi.fcc.gov/file/10624964627095/California%20Firefighters%20Pilot%20Study-Susan%20Foster%20before%20the%20FCC.pdf
Susan Foster tells her entire eye opening story to the FCC in a letter commenting on 5G Fund for Rural America onIn June, 2020. https://www.fcc.gov/ecfs/filing/1062696679001
Ms. Foster has also pressed the alarm on fire risk of cell towers, especially in fire prone woodlands.
IAFF Resolution Calls for a Moratorium on Cell Towers on or Near Fire Stations 2004
Research on health effects of radiofrequency radiation was gathered by the IAFF and presented to their Division of Occupational Health, Safety and Medicine. The extensive review included a large body of international science showing evidence of non-thermal effects of radiofrequency radiation emitted from wireless devices and cell towers. This review, along with their own observations and study, prompted the IAFF to write a detailed amended IAFF Resolution No. 15, dated August 2004, to prohibit cell towers from being placed on their fire stations.
The IAFF Resolution No.15 titled,
Position on the Health Effects from Radio Frequency/Microwave (RF/MW) Radiation in Fire Department Facilities from Base Stations for Antennas and Towers for the Conduction of Cell Phone Transmissions, easily passed.
The IAFF Resolution No. 15 states, “The International Association of Fire Fighters’ position on locating cell towers commercial wireless infrastructure on fire department facilities, as adopted by its membership in August 2004, is that the IAFF oppose the use of fire stations as base stations for towers and/or antennas for the conduction of cell phone transmissions until a study with the highest scientific merit and integrity on health effects of exposure to low-intensity RF/MW radiation is conducted and it is proven that such sitings are not hazardous to the health of our members.”
The IAFF resolution includes the following:
WHEREAS, the brain is the first organ to be affected by RF radiation and symptoms manifest in a multitude of neurological conditions including migraine headaches, extreme fatigue, disorientation, slowed reaction time, vertigo, vital memory loss and attention deficit amidst life threatening emergencies; and
WHEREAS, most of the firefighters who are experiencing symptoms can attribute the onset to the first week(s) these towers/antennas were activated; and
WHEREAS, RF radiation is emitted by these cellular antennas and RF radiation can penetrate every living cell, including plants, animals and humans;
WHEREAS, firefighters are the protectors of people and property and should be protected under the Precautionary Principle of Science and therefore, unless radiation is proven safe and harmless, cellular antennas should not be placed on or near fire stations; therefore be it…
RESOLVED, That the IAFF oppose the use of fire stations as base stations for antennas and towers for the conduction of cell phone transmissions until such installations are proven not to be hazardous to the health of our members.
Firefighter Stations Have Been Given Legal Exemptions for Cell Towers: AB 57
For the safety of the citizens whom they are responsible to protect, the firefighters are asking for exemptions from cell tower placement on their facilities. Armed with the 2004 IAFF Resolution, firefighters have requested and in many cases have received an exemption on cell towers on their fire stations. The firefighter exemption is codified in California’s AB57 (Quirk 2015) to rapidly deploy and have a deemed granted provision for “small cell” towers and was proposed in SB649 (Hueso 2017), to further streamline placement of cell towers. SB649 passed both legislative bodies in California but was the last bill vetoed by Governor Brown in 2017.
CBS news video interviewed Dr. Heuser as well as Assembly member Bill Quirk, author of AB 57. Dr. Heuser cautioned placement of cell towers in cities. Assemblyman Quirk, admitted he did add the provision for firefighters, as they asked him to do so. He was then questioned about teachers. “So if school teachers and parents had a strong lobby and they ask you to pass something that would prevent these from going up near schools, would you do that?” He responded, “If I couldn’t get the votes any other way!” CBS News Video
AB57- Firefighters have gotten an exemption to have cell towers on or adjacent to their facilites. CA AB57 (2015) Legiscan Text of Bill. ” Section 65964.1. (f) Due to the unique duties and infrastructure requirements for the swift and effective deployment of firefighters, this section does not apply to a collocation or siting application for a wireless
telecommunications facility where the project is proposed for placement on fire department facilities. “
SB649- They also received an exemption in California’s SB649 (2018), a bill that was to streamline placement of cell towers on utility poles,which was vetoed by Governor Brown. SB 649 California (2017) Wireless Telecommunications Facilities – 65964.2. “(a) A small cell shall be a permitted use subject only to a permitting process adopted by a city or county pursuant to subdivision (b) if it satisfies the following requirements: ….(3) The small cell is not located on a fire department facility.”
Senator Quirk on Why He Gave Firefighters the Exemption on SB 649 that was vetoed by Governor Brown
In 2014 Los Angeles Firefighters Fought Cell towers
Letters were written by the Los Angeles firefighters in 2014 to fight the cell towers over health concerns with long term exposure to close proximity radiofrequency radiation from the structures. ABC7 News: LA Firefighters Halt Cell Towers on Fire Stations Due to Radiation Concerns. News Coverage Video of Los Angeles Firefighters and Cell Towers
Health Effects in Firefighters with Nearby Cell Towers: What About Citizens?
There is a clear body of science that supports the experience of the firefighters, and points not only to neuropsychiatric symptoms (commonly referred to as Electrosensitivity) and neurologic injury, but also to cancer, hematologic abnormalities and hormonal disturbances. The Ripon School Cell Tower in California was shut off in 2019 due to several cases of cancer in students and teachers. The investigation is ongoing but parents and teachers across the country are concerned about placing cell towers near schools or in residential neighborhoods.
New 2019 Study Shows Nearby Cell Tower Radiation Harms Children’s Brains
A recent case controlled 2 year scientific study examining the neurologic effects of children, aged 13-16, in schools with a nearby cell towers revealed significant decline in cognitive scores when the radiation was higher but still at non-thermal levels. The researchers found a significant impairment in Motor Screening Task and Spatial Working Memory among the group of students who were exposed to high RF-EMF.The FCC limit is 100 times more RF than these students experienced in the highest exposure group that showed cognitive decline and with non-thermal effects. Unfortunately the FCC exposure standards are based only on heat effects not biological effects seen at much lower exposure levels than FCC limits.
The Small Cell Antenna Are the Same Antennas as on the Macro Towers
At a Sonoma Planning Commission meeting September 12, 2019, Lee Afflerbach, a consultant from Columbia Telecommunications Corporation was explaining the difference between the radiation from a small cell tower versus a macro tower to the planning commission. He states in the video at time 3:10:24, “To get around the capacity issue — it’s because so many people are [wirelessly] streaming video and other services like that, they [Verizon] have to have multiple sources for this. That’s why we have the smaller cells because each [small] cell is capable of almost putting out the same energy as one macro cell.” Another commissioner asked the question below.
Q: “Is the higher frequency 4G always deployed by small cell or is it deployed by typical macro tower?” .
A: At time 3:13:22, Mr. Afflerbach answered, “Typically the older Macro cells are being reconfigured to add the new spectrum and are being filled in with this technology…one of the things the industry is doing is beefing up 4G…I have reviewed, my staff has probably reviewed several hundred of these small cells the last year, year and a half, and they are all 4G equivalent. The radios that they are using are the exact same radios that are up on the macro towers. It’s not a different technology…the same boxes as on macro towers. I see them all the time.”
The small cell towers are not a different technology, or for regular cell phone service, but for streaming videos, and at the same power as regular macro towers but much closer proximity to people. Instead of 100 feet in the air on a macro tower, these “small cells” can be just several feet from a bedroom window.
The Los Angeles Unified School District Banned Cell Towers on Schools in 2009
The Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) unanimously adopted a resolution in 2009 opposing cell towers on or adjacent to school property until appropriate protective standards are developed. LAUSD 2000 Resolution on Cell Towers . This resolution highlights the Federal restrictions placed on zoning authorities to deny sitings nears schools based on health and environmental effects written into the 1996 Telecommunications Act. The resolution notes the unprecedented proliferation of cell towers in residential neighborhoods and near schools without justification or proof that there is a demand for the service, that it is safe or that there is adequate oversight of cell tower emissions. This LAUSD policy on Wireless Telecommunications Facilities endorses 1) Timely notification of cell tower applications 2) Fiberoptic broadband technology as a safer alternative 3) Revision of Section 704 of the 1996 Telecommunications Act to allow consideration of health and environmental effects in the placement of cell towers. 4) Amending the California Public Utilities Code to grant local governments authority to regulate wireless facilities in public rights of way. LAUSD 2009 Resolution on Wireless Telecommunication Facilities
Palo Alto Considering Strengthening Their Wireless Facilities Ordinance
In the City of Palo Alto, California, citizens are urging amendments to their new wireless facilities ordinance to have a larger buffer around schools for cell tower placement as well as strengthen other sections of their ordinance. Citizens suggest looking at (so far the strongest) “Small Cell” wireless ordinance that passed in Los Altos in August 2019.
Los Altos, Mill Valley and Sonoma City in California are Model Ordinances
In order to protect the health and safety, property values and privacy concerns of citizens, the Los Altos, California Wireless Facilities Urgency Ordinance (below) was adopted Aug 5, 2019.
- Ordinance Wireless Facilities https://www.losaltosca.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/city_council/page/48421/2019-08-05_19-460_1.pdf
- Resolution No. 2019-35 of the City of Los Altos Adopting Design and Siting Guidelines and Standards for Wireless Facilities.https://www.losaltosca.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/city_council/page/48421/resolution_no._2019-35.pdf
- Fee Chart for Wireless Facilities in Los Altos, California. Resolution 2019-36.https://www.losaltosca.gov/sites/default/files/fileattachments/city_council/page/48421/resolution_no._2019-36.pdf
Will Local Cell Towers Contribute to the Wave of Alzheimer’s Disease and Dementia?
Susan Foster, IAFF resolution co-author, wrote a chilling and cautionary letter to the City of Palo Alto in 2018 regarding the firefighters experience once cell towers were in place. She noted, “The firefighters’ most important lesson to us may be that if we allow a buildout of small cell aimed at facilitating 5G such that they are as commonplace in front of homes and schools as they are now on fire stations, we may be facing not only an immediate risk of impairment to some degree, but later a tsunami of Alzheimer’s and dementia. The rate of people dying from Alzheimer’s disease in the United States rose by 55% over a 15-year period according to new data from the Centers for Disease Control.”
Will citizens rise up and fight as hard as the firefighters have to protect their homes, families and environment ?
This video from Environmental Health Trust suggests they will.
International 5G and Cell Tower Protests
See also :
Cell Towers and City Ordinances: https://mdsafetech.org/cell-tower-and-city-ordinances/
Cell Tower Health Effects: https://mdsafetech.org/cell-tower-health-effects/
Electrosensitivity Science: https://mdsafetech.org/science/es-science/
Cellular Mechanisms of RFR Oxidation: https://mdsafetech.org/cellular-mechanisms-oxidation/
Cellular Mechanisms of RFR Calcium Channels: https://mdsafetech.org/cellular-mechanisms/
U.S. NTP Study – https://mdsafetech.org/ntp-study-2016/
Scientific Literature on EMR Tab: https://mdsafetech.org/
- United Firefighters of Los Angeles Local 112. Cease and Desist Letter. September 24, 2014. https://ehtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/Firefighters-Cease-and-Desist-.pdf
- United Firefighters of Los Angeles. Local 112. To Public Safety Committee Los Angeles. Sept 24, 2014. https://ehtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/Firefighter-letter-.pdf
- US Department of Labor. Assistant Director for Occupational Safety and Health. Re: Increase in cell tower communications worker deaths. Feb 10, 2014. https://ehtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/Dept-of-Labor-letter-cell-tower-deaths-.pdf
- US EPA Letter to Janet Newman Regarding Lack of Evidence of Safety to Long Term Non-thermal Radiofrequency Radiation. 2002. https://ehtrust.org/wp-content/uploads/EPA-Hankin-Letter-.pdf
- Susan Foster Letter to the FCC Regarding Cell Tower Firefighter Symptoms 2013. Susan Foster filing to FCC 2013
- Susan Foster Letter to the City of Palo Alto regarding Wireless Facilities Ordinance. Susan Foster Letter 2018 Palo Alto Wireless Project 17PLN 031018
- ConsumerWatch: 5G Cellphone Towers Signal Renewed Concerns Over Impacts on Health. Julie Watts and Abigail Sterling. Jan 25, 2018. https://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2018/01/25/consumerwatch-5g-cellphone-towers-signal-renewed-concerns-over-impacts-on-health/
- CBS Video Piedmont 5G Opposition. Consumer Watch: 5G Cellphone Towers Signal Renewed Concerns Over Impacts on Health. https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=26&v=61h_vuBujw0
- Cell Tower Hypocrisy: Rescuing Firefighters Not Kids. August 27, 2017. Susan Foster
- Residents urge more restrictions on cell antennas in Palo Alto: As city tweak rules for wireless equipment, some call for city to follow Los Altos’ lead. August 13, 2019. Gennady Sheyner. Palo Alto Weekly Online. https://www.paloaltoonline.com/news/2019/08/13/residents-urge-more-restrictions-on-cell-antennas-in-palo-alto.
- Los Altos council to vote on ordinance that mostly keeps small cell antennas out of neighborhoods. Aug 5, 2019. Emily Mibach. Daily Post.
- Los Altos council passes 5G regulations, weighs in on housing bills. Aug 14, 2019. Melissa Hartman. Los Altos Town Crier. https://www.losaltosonline.com/news/sections/news/199-city-affairs/60610-los-altos-council-passes-5g-regulations-weighs-in-on-housing-bills
- Could A New Cell Tower Hurt You Financially? CBS13 Investigates. June 28, 2019. Julie Watts.
- The inconvenient truth about cancer and mobile phones.We dismiss claims about mobiles being bad for our health – but is that because studies showing a link to cancer have been cast into doubt by the industry? The Guardian. July 15, 2018. Mark Hertsgaad and Mark Dowie. https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2018/jul/14/mobile-phones-cancer-inconvenient-truths
- The EUROPAEM EMF Guideline 2016 for the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of EMF-related health problems.https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/27454111or FULL ARTCLEhere https://www.degruyter.com/view/j/reveh.2016.31.issue-3/reveh-2016-0011/reveh-2016-0011.xml
- Microwave frequency electromagnetic fields (EMFs) produce widespread neuropsychiatric effects including depression. (2015) Martin Pall. J Chem Neuroanat. 2015 Aug 21. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/26300312
- Mobile Phone Base Station Tower Settings Adjacent to School Buildings: Impact on Students’ Cognitive Health. (2018) Meo SA et al. American Journal of Men’s Health. December 7, 2018. https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/10.1177/1557988318816914
- New Studies Link Cell Phone Radiation with Cancer. Scientific American. March 29, 2018. https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/new-studies-link-cell-phone-radiation-with-cancer/
- Sonoma Planning Commission Meeting September 12, 2019. Wireless Telecommunications Facilities. Small cells equivalent to macro cell tower antenna in power and Radiofrequency for 4G. https://youtu.be/HRYFXx7oNN4?t=11424