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   FIRE FIGHTER CANCER 
"Working to Extinguish Fire Fighter Cancer"
 
                                                                                     WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW!!!

ALL INFORMATION LISTED HAS BEEN SOURCED FROM CURRENT PUBLICATIONS WHICH ARE LISTED, AS WELL AS FROM FIRE FIGHTER CANCER FOUNDATION AUSTRALIAN DIRECTOR - STEVE BUNNEY
 
* Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation - www.ffcancer.org
* The Australian Firefighter - OH & S Alert
* United Firefighters Union - Australia
* United Firefighters Union - Qld
* Queensland Firefighter Publication
 
At time of submitting this, all information was known to be correct and current.

THIS PAGE IS TO ASSIST AND INFORM YOU AS TO THE CURRENT INTERNATIONAL TRENDS IN RELATION TO FIRE FIGHTERS OCCUPATIONAL HEALTH ISSUES.
 
The fight for the recognition of illness and disease that affect OUR FIREFIGHTERS has come.
 
Firefighters dedicate their lives to the service of others. The Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation was established to provide international outreach, support, and resource assistance programs for firefighters and family members that are stricken by cancer.

Many are aware diseases and illnessess such as cancer, primary site lymphomas, leukaemia, heart disease, lung cancer to name but a few, have been recognised worldwide as affecting firefighters at a higher rate than the general public.

Firefighters are regularly exposed to harmful substances, not only on the fire ground - but also at the fire station, particularly at those where exhaust extractors are inadequate or nonexistent. Scientific studies have shown firefighters are more likely to develop the blood cancer multiple myeloma than other workers. They also have an elevated risk for non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, prostrate and testicular cancer.
 
Given that direct links between exposure to hazardous materials and cancer have been confirmed, PRESUMPTIVE LEGISLATION is the next step to help both occupational exposure victims and their families.
 
PRESUMPTIVE LEGISLATION - These laws identify diseases or conditions that have been shown to be hazards associated with an occupation. As a result, if an individual employed in the occupation covered by the presumptive legislation contracts a specified disease or condition, it is presumed to have come from that occupation. Unlike our Workers Compensation system, the burden of proof then shifts from the employee to employer to demonstrate that the condition was not the result of occupational exposure. UFUA National President Mick Farrell says, "What we're after is the State Government and the Federal Government to reverse the onus of proof. So that is to say rather than have a firefighter contract Hodgkin's lymphoma, for example, and than actually have to prove he contracted that in his day-to-day work basis, that the proof is actually on the Government to prove that he didn't".

In North America, research has demonstrated an increased risk for heart disease, lung disease, cancer & infectious diseases in firefighters, as well as link between coronary heart disease (CHD) deaths and emergency firefighting duties. So the scope of this legislative support can be broad.
 
PRESUMPTIVE LEGISLATION is in place in 40 USA states and 6 Canadian provinces because of hard work & expert lobbying by the North American Firefighter Union. (the I.A.F.F.)
 
Australian firefighters do the same work as their American colleagues and face the same risks. They need the same protection.
The campaign for recognition, support & compensation for firefighters with work related disease has been a major focus of the UFUA National Committee of Management (NCOM).

NCOM decided to get the ball rolling by concentrating on those states & territories where legislation is not necessary to provide presumptive protection. Focus on jurisdictions where compensation can be achieved by regulation, the strategy included support for conditions such as cancers, heart/ lung and blood borne diseases in firefighters. NCOM delegates said that retrospectivity should also be pursued for Retired Firefighters who have these diseases. It is only in Queensland, Western Australia, the Northern Territory and the Commonwealth where actual legislation is necessary to put in place straightforward support & compensation for firefighters with work related disease. There is no reason to delay; there is already enough evidence to justify statutory protection for firefighters
.
 
THE STATISTICS
 
From the Queensland Firefighter Publication - WINTER 2008
"An investigation into the cancer cluster at Atherton Fire Station has concluded, with reports from all external agencies failing to reveal any localised cause for the incidents of cancer. These results seem to back up international studies that show that the occupation of firefighting in itself is a significant contributor to the contracting of cancer of various types. To this end, a large number of states in the USA and all of Canada have passed "presumptive" legislation that grants automatic recognition that a firefighter diagnosed with various types of cancer contracted that disease as a result of being a firefighter.
An electronic petition was available on the UFU of Qld until July 2008, which was seeking to have the Queensland Government introduce these laws. There were 1925 people who signed the petition, meaning that not all firefighters signed the petition that would have protected them in the event that they were diagnosed with a life changing disease.
 
Staggering statistics from America
* As firefighters, they are anywhere from TWICE AS LIKELY to SIX TIMES AS LIKELY to contract various forms of cancer.

* British Columbia - Amendments to the Workers Compensation Act have been introduced to recognise the following cancers as diseases that can arise where a worker is employed full-time as a firefighter and has been regularly exposed to the hazards of a fire scene, other than forest fire scene, over certain periods of time.
 
Primary site Brain cancer                         Employed for at least 10 years.
Primary site Bladder cancer                    Employed for at least 15 years.
Primary site Kidney cancer                     Employed for at least 20 years.
Primary non-Hodgkin's lymphoma      Employed for at least 20 years.
Primary Leukaemia                                     Employed for at least 5 years.
Primary site colorectoral cancer          Employed for at least 20 years.
Primary site ureter cancer                      Employed for at least 15 years.

I.A.F.F. Federal Firefighter Presumptive Disability
Firefighters are exposed on a daily basis to stress, smoke, hear and various toxic substances. As a result, firefighters are far more likely to contract heart disease, lung disease and cancer than other workers. And as firefighting increasingly assume the role of the nation's leading providers of emergency medical services, they are also exposed to infectious diseases. Heart disease, lung disease, cancer and infectious disease are now among the leading causes of death and disability for firefighters, and numerous studies have found that these illnesses are occupational hazards of firefighting.
 
In recognition of this link, nearly 40 studies have enacted "presumptive disability" laws, which presume that diseases are job-related for purposes of worker's compensation and disability retirement unless proven otherwise. In America NO such law covers firefighters employed by the Federal Government.
 
Source director Medical monitioring at Mount Sinai Hospital....

"Since 9/11, 283 World Trade Centre Rescue & Recovery workers have been diagnosed with cancer, and 33 of them have died of cancer.

Cases of blood-cell cancers such as leukaemia, lymphoma, Hodgkin's and myeloma, the cancers can strike 3 to 5 years AFTER exposure to toxins such as Benzene, a cancer causing chemical.

One in 150,000 white males under 40, would normally get this type of acute white blood-cell cancer, 35 of these cancers have been diagnosed already out of 50,000 Ground Zero Workers.
 
The odds of the occuring are one in hundreds of millions".
 
INFORMATION THAT CAN RING ALARM BELLS
Brain Cancer...      Of 14 studies on the mortality of firefighters, 11 found excess risk for brain cancer.
POSSIBLE CAUSATIVE AGENTS for brain cancer in firefighters include Vinyl Chloride, Acrylonitrile and Formaldehyde.
 
Lymphatic & Haematopoietic Cancer...   Found in the spleen, liver, lymph nodes and bone marrow. The best known of these cancers is Leukaemia.
POSSIBLE CAUSATIVE AGENTS for those cancers in firefighters include Benzene, Soots, PAH, Vinyl Chloride and Acrylonitrile.
 
Colon Cancer...   The Ontario firefighters report concludes that there is a probable connection between firefighting and colon cancer.
POSSIBLE CAUSATIVE AGENTS are diesel exhaust and asbestos.
 
Bladder Cancer...   There are also mixed results of studies linking Bladder cancer firefighting. Three studies found increased risk. One found a possible link. The Ontario report found a probable connection between firefighting and bladder cancer.
POSSIBLE CAUSATIVE AGENTS are diesel exhaust and Formaldehyde.
 
Kidney Cancer...   The Ontario report found a probable link between firefighting and kidney cancer. Studies of the link between kidney cancer and firefighting show mixed results.
POSSIBLE CAUSATIVE AGENTS are Polycyclic Aromatic Hydrocarons.
                                                                                                                        American Journal of Industrial Medicine 2003.
Health risks of air toxins in bushfire smoke.
Recent literature and analyses by CRC Bushfire have identified a number of recurring air toxics of concern:
* particulates / polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs)
* formaldehyde
* arolein

Analysis has indicated that numerous air toxics are present in bushfire smoke and thus pose potential risks for occuptional groups
such as firefighters as well as communities affected by smoke haze and residues in fire damaged areas.

Given the information provided, firefighters health and wellness needs to be prioritised when making impactinf decisions
of personal protective equipment, policies on laundering and storage of PPE, diesel exhaust emissions in engine bays.
Fiscal restraints are always there; however what price are you and your colleague's long time health
.
 
RECOMMENDATIONS or more importantly what you can do.

* That a state wide effort be made to educate firefighters as to the dangers of the widely recognised work
related diseases.

* A state wide training escalation of correct PPE and PPC.

* The immediate undertaking of station engine bay surveys, in relation to exhaust extraction, storage of PPC.

* The formulation of a State Firefighters Health & Wellness week.

* As an organisation the need to prioritise the introduction of an accurate up to date personnel hazardous
exposure reporting system.

* All occupational appliances be fitted with fully encapsulated face mask respirators, utilising P3 filters.

* Assist promulgating this issue, in an effort to initiate legislative changes that reflects these recognised
diseases as work related illnesses.


TIPS FOR FIREFIGHTERS
So your health should be your first priority  & sometimes the environments in which you work can be out of
your control. However, you must manage your work environments where you can directly impact on
their level of safety. The first place to start is the inside of the appliance cabin. It's time to break with
tradition and take some responsibility.

* Ensure contaminated or dirty BA sets are not placed in the back seats of appliances; wherever possible
replace them with clean BA sets from the rear lockers.

* If there's no alternative, always make sure the BA sets are cleansed onsite to an acceptable standard
and then place them into plastic bags before reharnessing them into rear seats.

* Place your contaminated clothes in plastic bags and store them in rear lockers. Arrange to have your
PPC laundered as soon as possible on return to the station. You must shower and ensure the rest of
your crew does likewise.

* The inside of the appliance cabin is a large portion of your workplace, it's the one place where
firefighters have to work and have peace of mind about their safety and it's now up to you to
maintain its integrity for yourselves and your colleagues.

                                                       Submitted by Steve Bunney Station Officer South East - Qld Firefighters Publication 2009 



Watch the following video of Firefighter Mark Noble who has Brain Cancer. The video is called
"You need it like a hole in the head".  Click on Mark Noble Video >>>> 
MARK NOBLE VIDEO

SHOW YOUR SUPPORT IN THE FOLLOWING WAYS...
Fire Fighter Cancer Foundation - www.ffcancer.org

The Retired Firefighters Association of Qld have FIREFIGHTER CANCER PINS
$5.00 each. Postage varies from $5.00 depending of amount of items.
Contact Denise Redfern - 0419 748 527 or email den.red8@bigpond.com




Firefighters for too long pay the ultimate price and to not even know it until it's too late....
                                                                well it's just not fair!!

                         Firefighting organisations around the world have acted  and now it's our turn to make a stand.

                                          "SET THE EXAMPLE"
                                                         do not
                                       "BECOME A STATISTIC"