Editor, IFSEC Global

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Adam Bannister was Editor of IFSEC Global from 2014 through to November 2019. Adam is also a former Managing Editor at Dynamis Online Media Group.
March 5, 2015

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EU Urged to Take Action Over High Cancer Rates Among Firefighters

fire eu meetingCancer rates among firefighters are well above average because of repeated exposure to deadly, toxic smoke, the European Fire Fighters Unions Alliance (EFFUA) has warned.

The alliance of trade unions from 12 European countries is now urging the EU to introduce tough smoke toxicity regulations for construction materials, extra funding for research into the problem and additional resources for improving health training for firefighters.

“We chose this profession to save lives, but as a result of toxic chemicals we end up fighting for our own,” EFFUA President Mikael Svanberg told a European Parliament meeting of MEPs Against Cancer (MAC). “I’m tired of going to the funerals of colleagues who have died too young as a result of cancer.”

Centred specifically around the issue of cancer rates among firefighters the discussion was co-organised by Fire Safe Europe (FSEU) and the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL).

“The cancer rate amongst firefighters is shocking and I don’t see why this issue has not been addressed yet. It is time to take action both on EU level and Member States,” said meeting chairman and Czech Republic MEP Pavel Poc.

Swedish firefighter and cancer survivor Anders Cederberg told MEPs: “I was diagnosed with occupational cancer in 2011 after 29 years as a firefighter. The prognosis is good, but no fire fighter should endure what my family and I had to endure.”

Alex Forrest, Canadian trustee at the International Association of Fire Fighters, said that a recent study by Monash University in Melbourne had found overall cancer rates were elevated among Australian firefighters compared to the general public.

“This is a concern that impacts fire fighters all over the world,” he said. “It is not one fire that is killing us; it is the hundreds we are exposed to during our career.

“The issue of occupational exposure to these deadly chemicals needs to be addressed now.”

The Future of Fire Safety: download the eBook

Is the fire protection industry adapting to the post-Grenfell reality fast enough? At FIREX International 2019, Europe's only dedicated fire safety event, some of the world's leading fire safety experts covered this theme. This eBook covers the key insights from those discussions on the developments shaping the profession, with topics including:

  • Grenfell Inquiry must yield “bedrock change” – and soon
  • After Grenfell: Jonathan O’Neill OBE on how austerity and policy “on the hoof” are hampering progress
  • Hackitt’s Golden Thread: Fire, facilities and building safety
  • Fire safety community has to “get on board” with technological changes

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