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Union seeks Labour support for compensation for firefighters who develop cancer

The Fire Brigades Union said firefighters had been ‘betrayed’ by the UK government (Aaron Chown/PA)
The Fire Brigades Union said firefighters had been ‘betrayed’ by the UK government (Aaron Chown/PA)

Firefighters who have developed cancer and other diseases through their work deserve compensation, their union is urging.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) is seeking support from Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer for funding to also monitor health and prevent exposure to diseases.

In a letter to the Labour leader, FBU general secretary Matt Wrack said firefighters had been “betrayed” by the UK government.

He called for talks with the union to ensure Labour’s manifesto included a commitment to deliver compensation if the party won power.

Such an arrangement would bring the UK in line with a number of other countries, including the US, Canada and Australia, which have had similar measures covering firefighters for decades.

Incidence of cancer among UK firefighters aged 35 to 39 is up to 323% higher than in the general population in the same age category, the union said.

Mr Wrack said: “Firefighters suffering from cancer and other potentially fatal conditions have been betrayed by the UK government.

“Tory ministers have ignored calls from the FBU and health experts to act over the much greater risk firefighters face of developing these horrendous diseases.

“However, with a general election on the horizon, Keir Starmer has a historic opportunity to do the right thing and deliver justice for the firefighters who have suffered from these devastating illnesses.

“Ensuring that firefighters can receive compensation would provide appropriate support to those affected and their families. This should go alongside a programme of regular health monitoring and improved prevention measures.

“The UK is decades behind countries like the US, Canada, Australia and others which already have such a scheme.”