Can I Make a Fire Fighter Compensation Claim?

Recent reports by the Fire Brigade Union and in the news have highlighted the above average prevalence of cancer in retired firefighters.

Due to the exposure to carcinogenic material that is produced when toxins are heated up in fires, individuals who are working for the fire services are being found to be at a greater risk of developing a number of different cancers. Furthermore, later reports found that the contact with contaminated clothing and equipment also places them at further risk of absorbing dangerously high levels of chemicals. The difference in equipment provided to different regional brigades means that some individuals are more at risk than others.

At AWH Solicitors, we are experienced with dealing with fire fighter injury and illness claims. If you have worked as a firefighter and think that you may have developed an illness as the result of your employer’s failure to maintain safety standards, we can help you.

Contact our expert industrial disease solicitors for an informative chat.


Fire Brigade Union


What are firefighters at risk of?

In February of 2019, the Fire Brigade’s Union highlighted the need for greater protection from exposure to carcinogens, mutagen and reprotoxics. Several studies had found that more safety measures could be put into place in order to avoid firefighters suffering from the consequences of this exposure. The studies also found that firefighters in the age category of 30-49 have a significant excess risk of developing prostate cancer and skin melanoma.

These reports were further developed in October 2019, when the Fire Brigade’s Union published evidence from their project collaboration with the University of Central Lancashire that highlighted the risks associated with the absorption of carcinogenic substances through the skin. There was found to be a link to thyroid, blood and bone cancer due to exposure to contaminants that exist in the dirt and dust left on the equipment used by firefighters.

Fire chemistry and toxicity expert Prof Anna Stec has called on the government to protect firefighters by providing them with the best preventative medical care, education and support, while investing in guidance and research to ensure best practice was followed.

“In my opinion, there is a direct link between firefighters’ occupation and cancer,” she said. “Firefighters are twice as likely to die when compared to the general population – and they’re dying from not one type of cancer, but they’ve got multiple types.

What can be done?

The most important step that needs to be taken for firefighters is for new standards to be brought into place that concern the cleaning, maintaining, storage and transportation of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE). The main finding of the scientific research was that firefighters were more at risk because of contaminated clothing and equipment. Union spokesperson in Tyne and Wear, Chris Moore, is himself suffering from an incurable blood cancer and has stated that many firefighters are having to wear dirty kit because they are not provided with enough equipment in the first place.

A bigger study from a number of firefighters has been commissioned and their results are likely to be available by the end of 2020.

Can I claim compensation?

If you have developed illness or suffered injury in your time in the fire service, you might be entitled to make a claim against your employer.

In every industry, employers are required to follow a duty of care towards their employees. Although the fire service is a specialist occupation, the guidelines still very much apply. These guidelines and minimum requirements include:

  • Undertaking risk assessments
  • Ensuring a safe work environment
  • Providing adequate training and feedback on performance
  • Providing communication channels for employees to raise concerns
  • Consulting employees on issues that concern them

An employer is found to have breached their duty of care if they are found to have failed to do everything that was reasonable in the circumstances to keep their employee safe. Clearly, working in the fire services puts you at more risk of harm because of the nature of the job. However, since these studies have found that more safety measures could be put into place, the fire service may be facing an influx in compensation claims.

Read more about industrial disease claims

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If you would like to have a chat about your situation, our expert industrial injury and illness solicitors are always here to help. They are highly experienced in industrial disease cases and will be with you every step of the way if you decide to make a claim.

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