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Firefighter Health

Questions to the Mayor of London – answered on 17th October 2019.

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Photo of David Kurten David Kurten Brexit Alliance

It was recently reported that firemen are twice as likely to develop cancer than the population at large (https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-49811603). What actual figures are you aware of which compare cancer among firemen to the general population?

Photo of Sadiq Khan Sadiq Khan Mayor of London

Two of the most recent reviews of the academic literature in this area were prepared by the Centre for Applied Science and Technology (CAST), which was commissioned by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC), and the Institute of Occupational Medicine (IOM).

Both reports identify firefighters have elevated risk or incidence of some cancers compared to the general population. The reports did not identify an association between a cancer and the firefighter occupation where the relative risk exceeded one-and- a-half times the risk of the general population. They did note higher than normal associations - where relative risk is greater than one but less than one-and-a-half times the risk of the general population - have been reported for some cancers. Both reports have recommended that further research is necessary to understand the potential risks based on current UK firefighting practices.