EFFUA President Mikael Svanberg recently spoke at a European Parliament meeting of MEPs Against Cancer (MAC). The discussion – focused specifically on the issue of cancer and firefighters – was co-organised by Fire Safe Europe (FSEU) and the Association of European Cancer Leagues (ECL).
Svanberg said: “We chose this profession to save lives, but as a result of toxic chemicals we end up fighting for our own. I’m tired of going to the funerals of colleagues who have died too young as a result of cancer.
“The cancer rate amongst firefighters is shocking and I don’t see why this issue has not been addressed yet. It is time to take action both on EU level and Member States.”
Anders Cederberg, a cancer survivor, then told MEPs: “I was diagnosed with occupational cancer in 2011 after 29 years as a firefighter. The prognosis is good, but no firefighter should endure what my family and I had to endure.”
EFFUA is now calling on the European Union to introduce tough new smoke toxicity regulations for construction materials, funding for further studies into the issue of firefighters and work-related cancer and extra resources to improve health training for firefighters.
Alex Forrest, Canadian Trustee of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said that a recent study by Monash University in Melbourne had found overall cancer rates were elevated among Australian firefighters compared to the general public.
“This is a concern that impacts firefighters all over the world. It is not one fire that is killing us, it is the hundreds we are exposed to during our career,” he added. “The issue of occupational exposure to these deadly chemicals need to be addressed now.”