Plea to protect heroes

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Plea to protect heroes

FIREFIGHTERS with the Country Fire Authority are calling on the public to sign a petition for their rights to claim health compensation.

These petitions were distributed to shops and businesses in the area last week, and were initiated by the CFA volunteers’ association, Volunteer Fire Brigades Victoria.

Leongatha CFA captain Tristan Morton-Pedersen said evidence shows firefighters are at risk of contracting one of 15 cancers when they are on the job.

“We attend up 100 incidents a year,” he said.

“We are exposed to chemicals, carbon monoxide, smoke and fumes.”

Currently, the law states the onus is on the firefighter – volunteer or staff – to prove a particularly incident caused their cancer.

“If you’ve been a firefighter for a long time, it becomes very difficult to pin point and prove one particular incident caused cancer,” he Morton-Pedersen said.

The law changed for federal level firefighters in 2011. Anyone working on the federal level could claim compensation and it was up to the employer to prove cancer wasn’t the result of firefighting. Three states have changed the law over the past four years.

“We agree the employer should have the burden of proof but the Victorian Government has refused,” Mr Morton-Pedersen said.

“This petition is to call upon the government to realise the evidence is quite clear specific cancers can be caused.”

The success of the petition could mean easier access to compensation for firefighters. The Greens have introduced bills to the Victorian Parliament to that effect but debate has been shut down.

“They aren’t ruling it out but they’ve said additional studies need to be conducted,” Mr Morton-Pedersen said.

“However the evidence is overwhelming and it’s good enough for the federal level and three other states. Any more delay will cause unnecessary grief and pain.

“There’s a risk every time we go out to a fire but the realistic risk is long term exposure.”

He also believed a higher level of care should be given to volunteers who attend as many fires at staff but are given less protective equipment.

“We take all the precautions but in reality there will always be a risk,” he said.

“This legislation will ensure our families are looked after.”

The petition can be supported by the general public. The CFA is hoping to see 500 signatures.

“We are not politically aligned, we are not pushing an agenda and we are not pointing the finger of blame at anyone,” Captain Morton-Pedersen said.

“This is to protect not only us but our families as well.”

Contact the CFA if you wish to support them and have not yet seen a petition in town.

 

Sign here: captain Tristan Morton-Pederson of the Leongatha CFA and other CFA brigades in South Gippsland are looking for signatures to promote better cancer compensation for firefighters.

Sign here: captain Tristan Morton-Pederson of the Leongatha CFA and other CFA brigades in South Gippsland are looking for signatures to promote better cancer compensation for firefighters.

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Posted by on Jun 24 2014. Filed under News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can leave a response or trackback to this entry

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