Cancer testing initiative launched for London firefighters

Share this content


Fire Brigades Union and University of Central Lancashire launch health research project for firefighters

A pioneering health research project has commenced in London, spearheaded by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and conducted by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). The project aims to test hundreds of firefighters for early signs of cancer and other health-related issues. Despite firefighters being at increased risk of occupational cancer, they currently do not receive regular health monitoring in the UK.

Groundbreaking health checks and the urgent need for action

The health checks, which are set to run until June 24th, involve nearly 300 firefighters providing blood and urine samples for disease biomarker and toxic chemical analyses. Professor Anna Stec, a renowned expert in fire toxicity from UCLan, leads this initiative with the primary goal to detect early-stage diseases and establish a connection between occupational cancers and exposure to toxic fire chemicals.

Worrying rates of cancer among firefighters

This research follows alarming recent findings that the cancer incidence among UK firefighters aged 35-39 is up to 323% higher than in the general population of the same age. The World Health Organisation’s recent confirmation that occupational exposure as a firefighter is carcinogenic further underscores the urgency of this project. London’s initiative follows similar launches in Tyne and Wear and Greater Manchester, with the objective of testing a total of 1,000 firefighters across the UK.

Firefighters’ voices: A call for urgent attention and action

The FBU National Officer, Riccardo la Torre, conveyed the need for action stating that “firefighters are taking action to address the serious health risks they face at work” and emphasised the necessity for “UK-wide regular health monitoring to catch occupational diseases early and save firefighters’ lives.”

Gareth Beeton, FBU London Chair, echoed this sentiment and asserted that the research project will “undoubtedly save firefighters’ lives,” calling for employers to take the issue more seriously.

Highlighting the implications of the study, Professor Anna Stec from UCLan noted that “firefighters are dying from rare cancers up to 15-20 years earlier than the general public” and that “measures such as health monitoring will go a long way to ensuring that firefighters can be properly protected.”

In support of the initiative, London Fire Commissioner, Andy Roe, stated the necessity of making firefighters “as safe as possible at work” and acknowledged the importance of ongoing research to better understand the impacts of contaminant exposure throughout their careers.

Receive the latest breaking news straight to your inbox