Firefighters have attacked the methodology and lack of consultation in a cancer study on the CFA’s notorious Fiskville fire ground. The CFA has previously apologised for using dumped toxic chemicals in firefighting training.The firefighters’ union has slammed a report into the rate of cancers at the Country Fire Authority’s controversial Fiskville training college. United Firefighters Union secretary Peter Marshall said the report, which found firefighters who trained at the centre had no higher incidence of cancer, was based on a small, unscientific sample size.
“This report is from the CFA, who have admitted they have breached their duty of care to firefighters,” he said.
“It was done for a PR exercise, not to find the facts.”
The CFA-commissioned Cancer Council report looked at the rate of cancer among 600 firefighters who had trained at the centre between 1971 and 1999. A Herald Sun investigation revealed that firefighters were exposed to cancer-causing chemicals, which were used as a cheap alternative fuel.
“Altogether, 61 men were identified as having been diagnosed with a first primary invasive cancer of whom four had a second invasive cancer.
“The most common cancers were prostate (14 cases) and melanoma (13 cases) while all other cancers that occurred were represented by one to five cases,” the Cancer Council report said.
CFA chief executive Mick Bourke welcomed the report. A Monash University study is investigating if firefighters across Australia had a higher risk of contracting cancer be cause of the toxins they were exposed to at work.