Hero firefighters who saved Grenfell Tower survivors' lives since diagnosed with terminal cancer
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An investigation into the tragic fire at Grenfell Tower has revealed that a number of firefighters who helped save residents have since been diagnosed with cancer.
Emergency service workers rushed to the scene in London in 2017, when 72 people lost their lives as a blaze burned through the residential building.
In the years since, up to a dozen firefighters, some of who are only in their 40s, have reportedly been diagnosed with cancers linked to the exposure to contaminants present during the fire.
A source from the fire service told the Mirror that experts are putting together a list of firefighters who attended Grenfell and who have since been diagnosed with cancer, with the number expected to rise above 20 as the investigation continues.
“We are expecting some really depressing data to be revealed soon. It’s shocking," the source said.
The majority of the cancers diagnosed are understood to be digestive cancers and leukaemia, for which there is no cure.
News of the list comes after the Fire Brigades’ Union and the University of Central Lancashire shared this week that firefighters are at least twice as likely to be diagnosed with cancer if they find soot in their nose or throat, or if they remained in their personal protective equipment (PPE) for more than four hours after responding to a fire.
The health risks associated with the Grenfell disaster have prompted firefighters to call for regular health checks for those who were involved.
Riccardo la Torre, Fire Brigades Union national official, said: “When workers on the front line are tackling fires to save lives and property, like all those who attended Grenfell, they need every protection possible from toxic health risks.
“This vital research proves that firefighters are suffering and dying from cancer, strokes, heart disease, and mental ill health as a result of going to work and protecting the public.
"We now know that firefighters are exposed to health and life-threatening contaminants as a result of their occupation, and certainly would have been at an incident the size and scale of the Grenfell Tower Fire.
“However, firefighters are left in the dark due to the lack of regular health surveillance and proper monitoring of exposures in the UK.
“Due to this inaction by the government and fire bosses, the Fire Brigades Union is commissioning further research to help us demand proper protection and support for our members who attended Grenfell, and for firefighters all over the UK."
One firefighter who attended the incident has said he's not surprised to hear colleagues are being diagnosed with cancer after their work on the site.
They said: “We were quite early on the scene and got held in this underground car park and we were breathing all the toxins for ages."
Another responder, Brian Flanagan, recalled being covered in 'soot and carbon' as he went up to the 20th floor of Grenfell.
“What is out of the ordinary was the length of time we were there and this is the problem," he said. “In a standard fire you would be there not more than four hours. When you get to that mark you get a relief crew. But I was at Grenfell for eight hours, twice as long as I should have been."
Addressing the health concerns, a spokesperson for the London Fire Brigade spokesperson told LADbible: “Our firefighters must be as safe as possible when doing their jobs and we are currently involved in two studies to investigate the possible impact of contaminants on health, including one directly linked to the Grenfell Tower fire.
“All firefighters and officers who attended Grenfell have been invited to take part in the research project, which carefully monitors their health even after they retire or leave the service.
"Staff also have access to our occupational health service to support them through periods of ill health.”
The National Fire Chiefs Council added that the safety and well-being of the public and firefighters is the 'number one priority for fire and rescue services'.
“The role of a firefighter is clearly one which can be dangerous and brings substantial occupational risk for the protection of those in need. It is recognised that whilst firefighters carry out their role, they are exposed to contaminants. It is acknowledged that incidences of some cancers in firefighters are higher than the average.
“The National Fire Chiefs Council is committed to ensuring the ongoing, improved safety of all firefighters, making full use of the evidence and knowledge available. NFCC is committed to working in partnership with all interested parties, including unions, universities, fire services and the wider industry.”