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Firefighters first in the UK to be tested for stroke among other life threatening conditions

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A fire and rescue service in the North East is the first in the UK to offer support to research that could help save firefighter’s lives.

Firefighters at Tyne and Wear Fire and Rescue Service (TWFRS) have undergone health monitoring to help research into the potential effects of contaminants produced by fires, to support research into the safety of firefighters.

This research, commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is being carried out the University of Central Lancashire and is examining the need for thorough decontamination and the links to stroke among the life threatening conditions in firefighters, such as cancer.

This research comes after a study published in January showed that the instances of cancer among firefighters aged 35 to 39 is up to 323 per cent higher than those of the same age in the general public, this same research also discovered that firefighters are more likely to die from stroke, heart attacks, and several other conditions.

Speaking to the Chronicle, Anna Step, professor in fire chemistry and toxicity at UCLAN, who is collecting biological samples from firefighters, says: “It is vital that firefighters can continue to do their jobs as safely as possible, and the research shows that measures such as health monitoring and reducing exposure from contaminants at the workplace will play an important part in protecting firefighters.

“We hope that working with organisations like TWFRS will not only help us to create a safer working environment in Tyne and Wear, but will also introduce a change to the wider sector.”

Also speaking to the Chronicle, the Tyne and Wear Deputy Chief Fire Officer Peter Heath, says: “This is a huge step forward in the continuous drive towards improving firefighter safety and I’m proud of our firefighters for volunteering to take part in this vital research into the potential effects of contaminants.

“We hosted a seminar last year about DECON alongside the FBU and have been clear that we want to work with academics and our union representatives to make the role even safer. We have made significant investment in firefighter safety and that will continue in the coming years.”

Tyne and Wear Fire service are already implementing measures suggested by Professor Step, including new appliances that help to offer a cleaner environment in the fire engines.

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