Firefighter study aids health focus
MONASH University has released the results of the Defence Firefighters’ Health Study, which examined the incidences of death and cancer in current and former Australian Defence Force firefighters, the majority of whom served in the air force.
The study found the death rate among ADF firefighters was significantly lower than the age- matched Australian population and that the rates of cancer were about the same.
However, due to the relatively young age of the cohort and limitations on the number of former ADF firefighters who could be included in the study, researchers could not draw a definitive conclusion and suggested the study be updated in 10 to 15 years.
The Department of Defence commissioned the Firefighters’ Health Study in 2012 in response to representations by ex- ADF firefighter and Townsville resident Pat Mildren.
Chief of Air Force Air Marshal Leo Davies said Defence was determined to look after its personnel.
“I want to assure all ADF personnel, past and present, that your health and welfare are central to everything we do as a military and I strongly
Lydia Kellner encourage any current or former ADF firefighters who have a diagnosed health condition, which they believe is service related, to contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,” he said.
“The Defence Firefighters’ Health Study provides an addition to the growing body of research being conducted into human exposure to hazardous chemicals, including the Jet Fuel Exposure Syndrome Study and the fourth update of the F- 111 Mortality and Cancer Incidence Study, which is due to be completed in early 2016.
“This study is not the final word but it will certainly help Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to better understand the effects of military service on personnel and enable both organisations to improve the care and welfare they provide to all ADF members.”
The study included firefighters who served between 1980 and 2011.
It compared their statistical health data against the national cancer and death registers.
Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs will continue to work with relevant ex- service organisations on matters relating to the health of former Defence members.