Professional career firefighters put their health and lives on the line every time they respond.
In addition to the obvious physical risks of working with fire, in confined spaces and hanging off cliffs and high-rises to perform rescue, there are other prevalent insidious hazards that many do not realise.
Tonight’s TVNZ Sunday programme will preview their documentary on professional career firefighter’s hidden killers of occupational cancer and mental trauma.
A wealth of international research has demonstrated the nexus between the high incidence of specific cancers and professional career firefighting. Professional Career Firefighters have between 30% and 110% higher incidents of specific cancers as a result of their repeated exposures to a cocktail of carcinogens at structure fires. The research shows that despite professional career firefighters maintaining their health and fitness, because are being regularly exposed to house and other structural fires regularly they have extraordinary rates of specific cancers.
The NZPFU is campaigning for an amendment to the Accident Compensation legislation to ensure occupational cancer is recognised so that professional career firefighters can access medical assistance and compensation as they would if they were burned or injured in a fire.
The repeated exposures to trauma is also taking its toll.
Professional career firefighters are co-deployed with ambulance to calls where the patient is no longer breathing of in an immediate life threatening condition. While more people are being saved with the deployment of professional career firefighters to medical calls, we risk losing more firefighters through depression, anxiety and post traumatic injury.
The TVNZ Sunday programme has been filming professional career firefighters talk about their cancer and mental health issues as well as those that are deeply concerned what the future holds for them.
Tonight’s TVNZ Sunday programme will preview the full story which is scheduled to air next Sunday. Keep up to date at facebook.com/SundayTVNZ/