Workplace Report October 2021

Health & safety news

FBU launches training to fight cancer threat

The FBU fire brigades’ union has launched new training to tackle firefighters’ cancer risk. The DECON training aims to educate firefighters about the danger of toxic fire effluents and the steps to take to protect themselves and others from these harmful contaminants.

It also aims to change the mindset around “a long-standing culture” in the fire service, where dirty kit would be viewed as a “badge of honour” and worn with pride. It advises firefighters to take showers soon after fires, and promotes better cleaning practices around fire kit, for example.

Research by the UCLan University of Central Lancashire found firefighters were four times more likely to have been diagnosed with cancer than the general population. It is thought their exposure to these contaminants could play a part in their increased risk. DECON encourages them to take actions before, during and after every fire incident to help reduce exposure.

“There are indications that the danger that contaminants pose could be very significant indeed,” said FBU general secretary Matt Wrack. “But with this training we can begin to fight back and improve safety for firefighters. All fire and rescue services and every chief fire officer should support this initiative and encourage employees to register.”