Firefighters in West Midlands participate in vital cancer testing research

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Fire Brigades Union spearheads groundbreaking cancer testing project

West Midlands firefighters are now undergoing tests for cancer and other health issues.

This initiative is a part of a comprehensive firefighter health monitoring research project across the UK.

The research has been commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) and is being executed by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

UK firefighters exposed to increased risk of occupational cancer

Currently, there is no regular monitoring provided for firefighters in the UK despite the clear risks associated with their profession.

Recent studies have shown a concerning trend: the incidence of cancer among UK firefighters aged 35-39 is significantly higher compared to the general population within the same age group.

Specifically, firefighters have a 3.8 times higher likelihood of developing prostate cancer, 3.17 times for leukaemia, and 2.42 times for oesophageal cancer.

This alarming data comes after the World Health Organisation declared occupational exposure for firefighters as carcinogenic.

Firefighters contribute to early detection and prevention

Over a hundred firefighters are participating in this new initiative.

They are providing essential blood and urine samples for testing at the University of Central Lancashire.

The aim is to detect any early signs of cancers or other diseases, as well as to find evidence connecting occupational cancers with exposure to toxic fire chemicals.

Riccardo La Torre, Fire Brigades Union’s national officer, stated: “This research is a vital part of our campaign to protect firefighters from cancer and other occupational diseases.”

He added: “It is shocking that firefighters have had to fund this cancer testing themselves through their union.”

He further lamented the fact that the West Midlands Fire Service declined the opportunity to support the project.

Instead, the testing is being conducted at a football ground, due to the Chief Fire Officer’s lack of full support for the research.

Billy Holland, FBU’s regional secretary for the West Midlands, highlighted: “Every firefighter taking part in this groundbreaking research in the West Midlands should be proud of their contribution to making the profession safer.”

He further commented on the broader picture: “The UK is decades behind the rest of the world when it comes to protecting firefighters from contaminants in fire.”

IFSJ Comment

The recent initiative to conduct cancer testing for firefighters in West Midlands is a significant step forward for the safety and well-being of these brave individuals.

The alarming statistics surrounding the heightened risk firefighters face emphasise the need for such research projects.

Not only does this help in early detection, but it also aids in understanding the direct impact of occupational hazards on firefighters.

The Fire Brigades Union’s commitment to protecting their members, coupled with the University of Central Lancashire’s expertise, is paving the way for future preventative measures.

It’s crucial for other regions to observe and learn from this model to ensure the health of firefighters everywhere.

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