Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service firefighters to be tested as part of ground-breaking FBU cancer research project

A ground-breaking cancer research project has returned to the North East with more than 100 firefighters from Tyneside set to take part.

Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) are this week hosting a testing programme commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).

Back in February, the first 15 firefighters volunteered to take part in testing carried out by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan).

More than 1,000 firefighters across the UK have participated by providing urine and blood samples to the research led by world fire toxicity expert Professor Anna Stec.

The results will be used to explore the link between firefighter exposure to contaminants and long-term health conditions such as cancer.

It follows recently released publications, finding cancer among UK firefighters aged 35-39 is up to 323% higher than in the general population in the same age category.

The research also found that firefighters face higher mortality rates from cancers, heart attacks and strokes.

This week Prof Stec, and a team of experts from UCLan, have returned back to the North East where they will carry out testing on 100 firefighters.

Chief Fire Officer for Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service, Peter Heath, said:

“Here in Tyne and Wear we take firefighter safety incredibly seriously and have invested significantly in education, equipment and the redesign of our processes to reduce contaminants.

“Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day when they come to work and we will continue to work hard to make their livelihood as safe as we can. I’m glad that we are able to support Professor Anna Stec’s research.

“I’ve already taken part in the testing personally and would encourage anyone who is able to get involved in Anna’s work.

“The more information we have on the effects of contaminants, the more improvements we can make to our procedures, appliances, our kit, and how we continue to work to keep firefighters safe.”

FBU Secretary for TWFRS, Wayne Anderson, said:

“Firefighters in the North East are proud to have led the way in this vital firefighter cancer research. We launched the testing in Newcastle last February, and since then over 1,000 firefighters have taken part across the UK.

“The University of Central Lancashire team tested 15 firefighters here in February and are now able to return to test over 100, with thanks to the ongoing support of Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue service.

“It’s a real testament to the dedication of firefighters and everyone involved. We’ve shown what can be done. Now we need regular health monitoring for every UK firefighter.”

The testing is being carried out as part of a national firefighter health monitoring research project led by Prof Stec and the University of Central Lancashire.

Prof Stec’s research is being funded by the Fire Brigades Union and TWFRS have allowed the research team access to their station, facilities and staff.

Testing is taking place between Monday, November 13th, and Wednesday, November 15th, with all those being tested volunteering to take part.