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To explore mortality of French professional male firefighters.Standardized mortality ratios (SMR) were calculated for 10,829 professional male firefighters employed in 1979 and compared with the French male population between 1979–2008. Firefighters were identified from 89 French administrative departments (93% of population).One thousand six hundred forty two deaths were identified, representing significantly lower all-cause mortality than in the general population (SMR = 0.81; 95%CI: 0.77–0.85). SMR increased with age and was not different from 1 for firefighters >70 years. No significant excess of mortality was observed for any specific cause, but a greater number of deaths than expected were found for various digestive neoplasms (rectum/anus, pancreas, buccal-pharynx, stomach, liver, and larynx).We observed lower all and leading-cause mortality likely due to the healthy worker effect in this cohort, with diseases of the respiratory system considerably lower (SMR = 0.57). Non-significant excesses for digestive neoplasms are notable, but should not be over-interpreted at this stage. Am. J. Ind. Med. 58:437–443, 2015. © 2015 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.