Firefighters’ Memorial Day sparks call for compensation


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The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has called on the UK government to introduce legislation that would ensure firefighters with cancer and other diseases linked to their work are eligible for compensation.

The call was made on Firefighters’ Memorial Day (May 4) as firefighters across the country observed a minute’s silence outside their fire stations.

According to the FBU, more than 2,000 firefighters have died in the line of duty. However, if the number included all those who have died of cancer and other diseases associated with firefighting, it would be much higher.

The union is calling for firefighters and their families to have access to compensation when diagnosed with cancer and other diseases linked to firefighting.

The FBU is pushing for the introduction of ‘presumptive legislation’ similar to what exists in the USA, Australia and Canada for many forms of cancer and some other diseases. The World Health Organization declared in July 2022 that firefighting was “carcinogenic to humans”.

Independent research conducted by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) this year revealed that firefighters are dying of cancer at 1.6 times the rate of the general population. Firefighters aged 35-39 are three times more likely to have cancer than the general population.

Matt Wrack, Fire Brigades Union general secretary, said, “The Fire Brigades Union has been forced to run its own campaign of prevention and health monitoring – but the fundamental responsibility lies with the government and the employer. We will not rest until firefighters have access to the compensation they deserve.”

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