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Future health a mounting concern for firefighters says new research


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Dräger has called for improved equipment cleaning procedures within the firefighting industry after a survey revealed that 100% of firefighters admit to concerns that exposure to carcinogens would impact their long-term health.

The new survey investigated the health concerns of serving firefighters, with regards to the threat posed by carcinogens, contaminants and viruses such as Covid-19.

Of the 100% of firefighters concerned about their future health, 65% said their concerns were ‘considerable’. This is almost double the number from the initial research two years ago when the number stood at 34%.

Almost three quarters (71%) of respondents answered that reducing their exposure to carcinogens was ‘extremely important’ in their working environment, with a further 18% declaring they found it ‘very important’. 

More than three quarters (78%) of survey respondents thought that washing masks or cleaning apparatus in a mechanical cleaning machine would improve support a safer environment and protect their health.  

However, when asked if their approach towards cleaning their equipment had changed following the Covid-19 pandemic, just under half (49%) agreed.

The survey also asked firefighters which technologies would be most important in protecting firefighters’ long-term health. 40% opted for ‘contamination detection equipment’ as key to their long-term health, with 30% saying that biometric monitoring should also be prioritised.

This research follows a report released by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC), a World Health Organisation (WHO) body, in which firefighting was declared as a ‘carcinogenic occupation’.

Liz Milward, Marketing Manager of Emergency and Rescue Services, says: “Ultimately, the purpose of Dräger’s study is to inform how the industry can further support Fire Services and their personnel, and help drive the cultural and technological advances that are required to protect firefighter health.”

A podcast will follow, hosted by UK Fire and accompanied by the Fire Services College, in which the results will be discussed and analysed by sector specialists.

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