Today ACC and FENZ have announced a new tool to assess Firefighter cancer claims to determine if they are occupational cancer claims.
The NZPFU is disappointed that ACC and FENZ developed these assessment tools without consulting the NZPFU, or more importantly, without accessing the expert advice we have provided to them including access to international expert, Winnipeg Firefighters Union President Alex Forrest.
When FENZ told the NZPFU Secretary this afternoon of this development, they started with the statement that they fully supported and still fully support the Union's campaign for presumptive legislation and that they believed that this was an improvement on the assessment criteria that would not undermine our campaign. We are very strongly of the view that this step to develop an assessment tool without our experts does impact on our campaign.
This tool still requires Firefighters to prove they were exposed to the hazards of a fire ground and all it does is set up new criteria to be followed. Further, some of the criteria is ill-advised as it fails to understand or recognise the wealth of credible scientific evidence that has shown the nexus between firefighting and occupational cancers.
While we hope that a review of current claims might result in some claims being accepted, this does not help Firefighters overall.
The NZPFU is committed to achieving presumptive legislation to recognise Firefighters occupational cancer.
This week the National Committee discussed a program for the campaign this year and we hope to have a significant announcement about our campaign strategy in the very near future. While today’s announcement may help a few, we will continue to fight for the many. We will keep members updated.