Fire­fighter study aids health fo­cus

Townsville Bulletin - - LIFESTYLE -

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.

4722 4451

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