Maggie Chapman MSP Welcomes Health Screening of Firefighters

We must always show firefighters the same support that they show us every day.

Health screening of 175 Scottish firefighters from around the country has been underway in Newbridge this week.

This comes in response to the Fire Brigades Union’s (FBU) DECON campaign, that seeks to raise awareness of and get actions to tackle the health risks associated with firefighting.

The World Health Organisation has designated firefighting as a carcinogenic profession. Firefighters are more likely be diagnosed with certain cancers and other heath issues, and get these diseases earlier than the general population.

This health screening forms part of the next phase of research carried out by Professor Anna Stec and the Fire Toxicology team at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan). Their research has already influenced policy makers to recognise the evidenced link between firefighting and the significantly increased prevalence of cancers and other diseases in firefighters.

The FBU's DECON campaign aims to support the protection of firefighters by ensuring they have access to decontamination equipment, facilities and training, and have annual health screening during their service and in retirement. This should include adequate monitoring and recording of exposure.

The Scottish Greens trade union spokesperson, Maggie Chapman MSP, who supports the FBU's DECON campaign and attended the first screenings at Newbridge Fire Station in Edinburgh, said:

"There is extensive evidence that firefighting is carcinogenic. We must protect our firefighters by providing equipment and facilities that allow full decontamination to take place. Prevention is better than cure and annual health screening is central to this.     

"That is why I welcome this week's testing programme. It is vital that the Scottish Government recognises the importance of keeping our firefighters safe and I thank them for funding this week’s screenings.

"I hope this will be the first of several different investments: health screening for the whole service, record management changes, decontaminating facilities in stations and more. Firefighters put their lives on the line for us every day. It is only right that we prioritise this investment and their health and safety."