NFCC responds to BBC Inside Out programme:"Firefighter safety is our number one priority"

Following the BBC Inside Out programme which looked at firefighters exposure to toxins, the National Fire Chiefs Council has responded, stating that firefighters' safety and well-being is its number one priority.

The programme looked at research which is currently being carried out by fire chemistry and toxicity professor Anna Stec at the University of Central Lancashire. 

Chris Davies, Chair of NFCC's Health and Safety Group has issued the following statement:

"As Chair of NFCC's Health and Safety Group, I want to reassure firefighters from across the UK that their safety and wellbeing is our number one priority.

"It goes without saying that firefighting is a dangerous profession, and the bravery, dedication and commitment shown by firefighters often goes unseen. Without doubt, there is a substantial occupational risk for anybody who puts themselves in the way of danger, for the protection of those who are in need.

"It is well understood that firefighters are exposed to contaminants. It is also acknowledged that certain cancers among firefighters is above the normal average. However, the priority for me - as the Chair of NFCC's Health and Safety Group - is to provide conclusive evidence to show whether or not there is a direct link to the contaminants firefighters are exposed to and cancer.

"As such, even though there is already worldwide research going on in order to prove such a link, NFCC has commissioned its own independent research in order to contribute to the wider academic and medical studies currently underway. As a group, we feel it is crucial to prove this link in order to better inform our future advice, guidance and procedures and therefore without doubt, do everything we can to avoid putting Firefighters in unnecessary harm or danger.

"Even without this evidence at present, I want to reassure you that NFCC is constantly striving to improve the safety of our firefighters, utilising the evidence and knowledge that we do currently have. Indeed, firefighter Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) today is better that it has ever been, and this is in part due to our work with firefighters, unions, partners and the industry.

"We continue to investigate PPE through our Personal Protective Equipment Contamination (PPEC) Working Group and will continue to ensure PPE provides the relevant level of protection to every Firefighter. Similarly, as a group,  NFCC, in collaboration with the Fire Brigades Union (FBU), has issued advice to firefighters across the UK, emphasising the importance of hydration, heat management and cleanliness.

"Our “Clean is the new tough” campaign is specifically designed to protect our firefighters from unnecessary exposure and is informed based on industry recognised knowledge and standards today.

"Finally, the focus for NFCC's Health and Safety Group continues to involve raising awareness, collecting and exchanging comparable data along with good practices to ensure that lessons learned are shared. Therefore, as information and evidence continue to come in, we will endeavour to update the advice and guidance we share in order to guarantee the safety of all Firefighters.

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