All firefighters deserve access to routine health screening

Our firefighters do a heroic job and should all have access to routine health screening.
An FBU representative has his oxygen levels checked

Our firefighters do a heroic job and should all have access to routine health screening, says Scottish Green MSP Maggie Chapman.

This follows a successful screening programme that has run this week at Newbridge fire station as part of the Fire Brigade Union’s (FBU) DECON campaign, with about 175 firefighters from around the country taking part. Ms Chapman is calling for steps to be taken to ensure all firefighters, including those who have retired, get regular health checks given the carcinogenic nature of firefighting.

The DECON campaign aims to protect the health and save the lives of firefighters by reducing exposure to harmful fire contaminants that cause cancer and other diseases.

Research from the FBU and the University of Central Lancashire shows that Firefighters are four times more likely to get cancer, sometimes up to 15 years earlier, than the average working person. This has been linked to toxic contaminants released during fires.

Ms Chapman said:

“Nobody should have their life cut short as a direct result of their jobs, but far too many firefighters do. They put their bodies and their wellbeing on the line for us every day. It is heroic work that saves lives, and they deserve our full solidarity and support.

“There is extensive evidence that firefighting is carcinogenic. By establishing routine health screening we can catch any illnesses as early as possible. Prevention is always better than cure and annual health screening can be central to this.

“That’s why this week’s screening campaign has been so important. I hope that it proves to be the first of many. I stand firmly with the FBU and their calls for health screening for the whole service and decontamination facilities in every station.

“The FBU has done vital work in protecting its members. But that level of support needs to be replicated by our Parliament and by government. We must ensure that all firefighters are fully protected.”