The death rate from all types of cancer among firefighters is 1.6 times higher than in the general population, a report has revealed. The Firefighters Union commissioned its own study on firefighter safety due to a lack of reported research in this area.
General Secretary Matt Wrack told the All Party Parliamentary Fire Safety and Rescue Committee that the UK is lagging behind other countries in caring for firefighters, according to the Mirror.
He said: “The findings were alarming, with firefighters diagnosed with cancer at an alarming rate and younger than others in the community, and diagnosed at a later stage of the disease.
“There are best practices in many other services around the world.
“We are concerned about the level of health surveillance that exists.”
Meanwhile, Professor Anna Stec, from the University of Central Lancashire, studied 11,000 firefighters for the FBU.
She said: “People are clearly dying sooner than they should.”
This comes as the World Health Organization declared firefighting to be a carcinogenic occupation.
The Mirror also recently revealed that the firefighters who served in the Grenfell Tower disaster have been diagnosed with terminal cancer.
Professor Stec claimed that crews were exposed to asbestos in the west London tower block in the June 2017 fire, and a health screening plan was recommended in 2018, but the government never acted on it.
The Fire Union wants MPs to change legislation so that firefighters with cancer can receive support, treatment and compensation without having to prove what chemical and what fire caused their cancer.
Firefighter Steven Burns, 51, of Hampshire, criticized “government inactivity”.
He joined at age 34 and has had 15 tumors removed in a span of seven years, which he attributes to his work.
Burns said: “We need to be heard. I am going to a colleague’s funeral, he was 49 years old and he died of kidney cancer.
“It was 100 percent his job too. We are dying at least 10 years younger than the general public and it needs to be admitted.
“We need to put things in place to prevent it.”