UK firefighters’ union FBU has launched a new nationwide database to assess the potential link between exposure to fire toxicants and the increased occurrence of cancers and other diseases among firefighters.
The union, which has developed the registry with researchers at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), is calling on every current and former UK firefighter suffering from a serious or chronic illness to add their name to the registry, a move it says will help save firefighters’ lives in the future.
The UK Firefighters Cancer and Disease Registry (FCDR) will collect information on firefighters’ work routines, exposure to fire effluents, lifestyle and health. The FBU says this will “enable scientists to identify and recognise most common cancers and diseases related to firefighters’ work, and, in the future, offer preventive health screening, education and support that is specifically designed to protect firefighter’s health.”
Matt Wrack, FBU general secretary, said: “Every current and former firefighter who has suffered a serious or chronic illness needs to add their name to this register so we can further expose the shocking numbers of firefighters suffering from cancer and other diseases.”
Anna Stec, professor in fire chemistry and toxicity at UCLan, said: “The UK’s National Cancer Registry and Analysis Service is currently not able to provide any reliable data on cancer incidence or mortality amongst firefighters. Setting up the UK Firefighters Cancer and Disease Registry will enable us to identify and keep track of all firefighters who have been diagnosed with the diseases and cancers, as well as identify any association between firefighter’s occupation and exposure to fire carcinogens.”
The register covers cancers, nervous, circulatory and respiratory diseases, liver and kidney disorders and ‘other’ ailments potentially related to work.