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Alec Forrest and guests at Next Step 2023
11 Sep 2023

Next Step 2023: CTIF Sweden co-hosted cancer conference with world renowned expert Alex Forrest as keynote speaker

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Alex Forrest and guests at Next Step 2023

The Firefighters' Cancer Fund arranged a one-day conference in Stockholm on September 7 on the theme:  "Next Step 2023: How do we protect our firefighters?"

Together with representatives and experts from the industry, there was information about the latest studies and news about how we protect our firefighters against cancer. The underlying theme was "how can we create a safer working environment for our firefighters?"

The intensive research of recent years regarding firefighters' clothing and preventive measures will be presented during the day together with research studies and practical examples of how other emergency services outside Sweden work with this issue.

"In the past year, the issue of Occupational Cancer risks for Firefighters has gotten the attention of the World Health Organization: The cancer research arm of this organization has effectively validated our worst fears in regard to cancer risks for firefighters around the world", keynote speaker Alex Forrest says to CTIF News: 

CTIF.org wrote about WHO's research in 2022, which validated in simple laymens terms what Alex Forrest and many experts with him have been saying for years: Firefighters are at high risk for occupational cancer, regardless if they are career firefighters, volunteers or instructors. Exposure to smoke and other bi-products from fires have been known to be getting into firefighters bodies through the skin despite wearing bunker gear, breathing apparatus and other protective gear.  

The WHO study has validated over two decades of work by Alex Forrest and the International Association of Firefighters in ensuring governments in Canada, the United States, Australia, New Zealand and now Europe recognize the risk factors and the need for legislative support for compensation, prevention and the need for technological advances in PPE. 

 

Are current work environment laws enough to protect our firefighters?

During the conference, there will be a review of developments in recent years and a sharing experiences and proposals for measures applied by the industry.

Lecturers from various fields actors have been invited to  give their view and to reflect on the decision to classify the profession as a firefighter in the highest risk group.

How do we proceed? Can health checks for firefighters be changed?

Should we lower the age limit for smoke diving?

Are there other protective measures we should consider for firefighters?

 

The program will be held primarily in Swedish language, except for the headline presentations by Alex Forrest, and Edward A. Kelly, which will be held in English. 

 

The program included:

Alex Forrest
Alex Forrest has spoken at CTIF events before: He was a key note speaker at DElegates Assembly in Helsinki, Finland, 2016. 

· Firefighters die of cancer – The profession is classified in category 1
Alex Forrest - IAFF Canada

Alex Forrest talked about IARC’s classification of Firefighting as a Class 1 Carcinogen.  He will be giving a history of how IARC arrived at this decision. Alex Forrest was granted observer status at the Firefighter Monograph and will give his insightful analysis as a Firefighter/Lawyer/Author and Firefighter Health and safety advocate. 

Mr Forrest has been instrumental in changing the legislation in his home country Canada to let all firefighters who develop cancer file their  condition as a work related illness, without needing to prove how they got the cancer. This legislation has peaked the interest of many other countries and Australia has taken steps towards creating similar legislation.

 

Edward A. Kelly, IAFF
Edward A. Kelly, IAFF

· The Work Safety Agency informs
Paula Lundberg - The Swedish Work Safety Agency

· PFAS in firefighters'  clothing
Edward A. Kelly - IAFF

· Correct fire fighting underwear can save lives
Lars Ekberg – Professor at Chalmers University

· How do our Nordic neighbouring countries work?
Tommy Baekgaard - Chairman, The Danish Firefighters Cancer Society,  Denmark
Tommy Kristoffersen - Chairman Firefighters against cancer, Norway

 

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