Labour urged to support firefighters’ health and compensation

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The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has called on Labour leader Keir Starmer to endorse financial assistance and health monitoring measures for firefighters who have developed cancer and other diseases due to their occupation.

FBU General Secretary Matt Wrack expressed that firefighters have been “betrayed” by the UK government and urged Starmer to ensure compensation for those suffering from cancer, heart, lung, and other conditions caused by exposure to fire contaminants.

Rising cancer rates among firefighters

A report commissioned by the FBU and conducted by the University of Central Lancashire highlighted alarming cancer rates among firefighters.

The study revealed significantly higher mortality rates in firefighters compared to the general population, with prostate cancer 3.8 times, leukaemia 3.17 times, oesophageal cancer 2.42 times, and cancer of unknown origin 6.37 times more likely.

Furthermore, cancer incidence in UK firefighters aged 35-39 is up to 323% higher than in the general population of the same age group.

International comparisons and the call for action

The FBU emphasised that the UK lags behind countries like the US, Canada, and Australia, which have had similar compensation measures for firefighters for decades.

Wrack sees this as a historic opportunity for Starmer to deliver justice for affected firefighters, suggesting a commitment to swift compensation delivery in Labour’s General Election manifesto.

He highlighted the need for a program of regular health monitoring and improved prevention measures.

IFSJ Comment

The FBU’s call for Labour support in providing justice for firefighters battling serious illnesses marks a crucial moment in addressing occupational health risks faced by firefighters.

The stark statistics presented by the University of Central Lancashire study underline the urgent need for effective health monitoring and compensation measures.

This appeal not only seeks to rectify past oversights but also aims to align the UK with global standards in firefighter health and safety.

The outcome of this initiative could significantly influence the well-being of firefighters and set a precedent for occupational health policies.

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