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A Kurdziel  
#1 Posted : 30 September 2019 08:50:33(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

We all keep saying that we don’t do enough of the health part when it comes to Health and Safety  and here is an example, perhaps - https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-49811603

Dave5705  
#2 Posted : 30 September 2019 17:15:57(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
Dave5705

I'd be interested to know how many times this has been raised in H&S reports and what the management responses have been. But I also get the point about fire-eaters. Similar cultures exist in many industries.

stevedm  
#3 Posted : 01 October 2019 07:11:52(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
stevedm

Was expecting numerous responses to this...Fire Fighters and first responders generally are a workforce that face risks that are at odds with life saving...people will take risks to do what they perceive as life saving tasks...even if it means putting themselves in harms way...I've done it myself and sufffered 6 months off front line work...but not because the training or facilities were not there..I am not saying this doesn't need pushing up the agenda..this is more about the changing attitudes of recruits coming into the service...the macho image of the fire fighter has gone and now the service needs to change to reflect that... 

CptBeaky  
#4 Posted : 01 October 2019 08:25:15(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
CptBeaky

I was quite interested in how they suspect the carcinogens get into the system. The hypothesis is that they are absorbed through the sweat within the PPE. This is compunded by firefighters not having enough, meaning they are often putting on contaminated clothing, whilst the other set is in the wash. This is further exacerbated by them storing their dirt gloves inside their helmets.

Whilst their is yet to be a proper study to validate this hypothesis (as fair as I am aware), this highlights the need for people to clean and store their PPE properly, and the need for the employer to supply PPE in sufficient quantities. Alongside the macho culture (that is also rife within the manufacturing industry) of PPE being for wimps it is a recipe for people needlessly suffering.

This shows the need for strong leaders within these sorts of industries. Too many managers would rather turn a blind eye than take people to task for this. Too often there is an attitude of "It's their choice, they know the risks". These people don't know the harm they are doing themselves, and it is up to the managers/directors to educate and enforce the rules.

We need the HSE to start coming down harder on improper use and supply of PPE. Whilst we shouldn't need a stick to beat sense into the directors/managers that feel they can just throw minimal PPE at a job and forget about enforcing it, it would make life a lot easier.

thanks 1 user thanked CptBeaky for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 01/10/2019(UTC)
A Kurdziel  
#5 Posted : 01 October 2019 08:55:22(UTC)
Rank: Super forum user
A Kurdziel

I believe that there is evidence that car mechanics and the like, are at increased risk of amongst thing, bladder cancer which might be caused by them using their overalls to wipe their hands and not cleaning the overalls often enough. It seems to be a similar mechanism in fire fighters.

See http://www.hse.gov.uk/pubns/guidance/sr19.pdf for stuff  on the risks from used engine oil

thanks 1 user thanked A Kurdziel for this useful post.
CptBeaky on 01/10/2019(UTC)
Cooper103721  
#6 Posted : 02 October 2019 14:56:13(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Cooper103721

What doesn't help in all this investigation work across the World is that it cannot be confirmed nor denied that the role has an effect on the increase in cancer.  Yes, Firefighters are twice as susceptible to cancer than the general public, but why is that, the UK research will hopefully find out why? 

No names, but when the same company, one in the North and one in the South are at opposite ends of the spectrum, if they cannot agree what chance have the rest of us!

andybz  
#7 Posted : 03 October 2019 09:50:45(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
andybz

Does anyone have more information on this?

Having read the paper from Lancaster Uni it appears that the reference to cancer rates is from global data and there does not appear to have been any assessment to determine if this applies equally to the UK. Having dug a bit deeper it seems that studies in different countries identify different cancers being a concern for fire fighters. So these results may simply be due to random effects because you will alwys find some variation in every population (correlation does not prove cause).

The reason I am a bit curious is that fire fighters actually spend very little time fighting fires. So if there is any causal link it suggests this would be as a result of very low exposure, which would be a very serious concern.

thanks 1 user thanked andybz for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 03/10/2019(UTC)
Smudger207  
#8 Posted : 03 October 2019 16:51:05(UTC)
Rank: New forum user
Smudger207

Interesting reading and also that this is global data. Watch some of those American firefighting videos on You tube and you will see on many occasions the firefighters enter building fires with a BA set strapped to their back yet there are not donned in air ( mask over face) therefore the are inhaling the toxic chemicals  contained in the acrid smoke. A further point to mention is that there is visible smoke and invisible smoke, so they may be under the impression that they are in clean air, when in fact they are not. 

 

One final final point, more US firefighters have died from inhaling the dust generated during 9/11 than actually died that day........one of the reason muted was down to them refusing to wear dust masks that were being supplied. Apparently they were pink in colour....

oldblueflame  
#9 Posted : 09 October 2019 15:50:22(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
oldblueflame

First of all American fire fighters do not operate to the same systems as the UK fire service in  the UK fire service BA must be donned in fresh air

I cannot speak for the world fire  servcie but I can speak for my time in the fire service in the UK , to say that fire fighters spend little time attending fires is a sweeping generalisation and in my case  and the vast majority of fire and rescue services personnel current and retired completely wrong.

The firefighters who are now suffering for doing there job were not provided with adaquate PPE over several years.

The point is they had to wear the stuff over and over again, and were exposed to the chemials produced at fires over and over again

They had one helmet eassy to clean on the outside virtually impossible to clean on the inside where any chemical could build up.

Two tunics which soaked up  chemicals like a sponge  during a fire and became wet from the inside with sweat and the outside with whatever was burning or smoking. (the smell within a fire engine and on fire fighters after a job is very distinctive)

The tunics were worn some night over and over again as it was not unusual on occasions to go to several fires one after another, you could swap tunics over but both would be covered in allsorts of fire residue and chemcials and remain wet all night . On the appliance  4 to 5 people would breath in those fumes, close of shift you would place all your kit in a drying room and hope it dried before the start of the next shift.(it didnt always) When you came in the next shift there would be dried residue over everything and the only way to remove it would be to brush it off into the air (except the hemets which could be wiped over on the outside but you would have had to take it apart to properly clean the inside and if you didt the fire engine would be off the run and not availible) We did have dry cleaning that came once a week and deleiverd back your 1 of your 2  tunic the following week.

Would you expect or be expected to wear contaminated kit over and over agin they were.

Strong leradership does not keep PPE clean sufficent PPE would have helped them then bit late now though

 

thanks 3 users thanked oldblueflame for this useful post.
A Kurdziel on 10/10/2019(UTC), Messey on 11/10/2019(UTC), CptBeaky on 14/10/2019(UTC)
andybz  
#10 Posted : 11 October 2019 17:06:00(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
andybz

Oldblueflame - Thanks for sharing your experience. It certainly sounds like there have been issues with management of PPE. But use of bad data or misuse of poor data rarely produces effective results. Hence my interest is what this all actually means.

I still think it is inappropriate to use global data to explain UK issues. And I can't really see how the data demonstrates cause. There could be many other explanations that don't seem to be mentioned. It could be shift work (identified as a possible carcinogen by WHO). Actually the biggest factor in cancer rates is age. It could be that fire fighters are generally healthier than the wider population so live longer (fitter so fewer heart attacks) and would be more likely to develop cancer.

This is not to say the PPE is not an issue. But I feel that the way this was reported is likely to cause a degree of anxiety to fire fighters, which is unhealthy in its own right, especially if there is no causal link.

Messey  
#11 Posted : 11 October 2019 21:20:55(UTC)
Rank: Forum user
Messey

Oldblueflame's experience is identical to mine after 32 years service in London's Fire Brigade.

The older fire tunics with 2 x rows of silver buttons looked smart but was made from a pourous sponge like surge material soaked up smoke and contaminated water like blotting paper. As we were accountable for spending public money, supplying additional uniform/ PPE to enable us to have clean kit at all times was out of the question and would have been/was laughed at if requested.

OBF has said it all about PPE and health, but one additional concern was in London, we were always being moved around to cover shortfalls of staff in neighbouring (and not so neighbouring!) fire stations. Where possible, we would use our cars and dirty PPE would be thrown in the boot of the car after that 'out duty' shift. Often we would take the kit home, thereby spreading contaminants to places our families would occupy. Senior officers did that every day.

Perhaps we, the firefighting community should take some of the blame. As an organisation, we were entirely fixated on safety on the fire ground - achiveing safe systems of work to enable us to do our sometimes hazardous jobs in unfamilar environments was our main blinkered focus. We also had a smilar safety culture in and around the station plus during training.

Meanwhile the H in H&S was pretty much overlooked. I stress, 'overlooked' and not ignored. Its as if the shadow cast by the huge risks we faced operationally, and the efforts made to reduce risks to crews, almost hid the health risks in uniform we wore every day,  and took home to our families.

Whether this is the reason for the spike in cancers affecting staff engaged or formerly engaged in fire service will be established in due course I am sure as the appetitie for health monitoring has arrived and wont go away now.

I am pretty sure that origin of the cancer spike will be found to be a combination of smoke eating - especially at car fires where BA wasnt procedure until recent years - and the contaminated fire PPE issue. Lets hope the authoroties and unions dont sit on their hands any more and action is taken.

  

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