No cancer link found at fire station

Four cases of kidney cancer in six years at the Success Fire Station prompted an investigation into a possible link.
Four cases of kidney cancer in six years at the Success Fire Station prompted an investigation into a possible link.

In November the Department of Fire and Emergency Services closed the Hammond Road facility after a firefighter was diagnosed with kidney cancer.

It was the fourth such case in six years.

DFES then called on an independent consultant to conduct tests after preliminary investigations failed to link the cause of the cancer to the station or a specific incident.

Speaking in Parliament on behalf of Emergency Services Minster Joe Francis recently, Attorney General Michael Mischin said further environmental testing on site had failed to link the cause of the cancer to the station.

‘Its (Golder Associates) conclusion is that there is no identifiable link between the environment at the site and the incidence of kidney cancer,’ he said.

Despite the findings, which were not released publicly ” a decision criticised by Opposition emergency services spokeswoman Margaret Quirk ” DFES assistant commissioner Brad Stringer said it was unclear when the station’s 16 permanent staff would return.

He said DFES would await the results from an ‘independent expert panel’ it had engaged to provide advice on DFES’ actions to date and the best way forward.

‘DFES will await advice from the independent panel before making any decision on any possible return of firefighters to Success Fire Station,’ he said.

‘The firefighters have been comprehensively briefed on the results to date through direct briefings and a Success Fire Station Working Group with senior officers from the station.’

United Firefighters Union of WA secretary Kevin Jolly said finding the cause of the cancer should still be a priority.

‘The problem is that they’re not looking for the cause (of the cancer), they’re looking to ensure the station is a safe workplace,’ he said.

‘The union’s concern is that four fire- fighters have been diagnosed with cancer and we still don’t know what the cause is.’

Mr Jolly said the union would pay to get a specialist from New South Wales to travel to Perth to analyse the data gathered by Golder Associates.

That is expected to occur sometime after Easter.

‘There’s still a lot left unexplained and a lot of unanswered questions,’ he said.