DFES has temporarily relocated operational personnel from Success Fire Station, pending the outcome of investigations into the station environment.
The move has been made as a precaution in the interests of the health and safety of the firefighters based at the station.
Within the past six years, four firefighters that have worked at the station have been diagnosed with kidney cancer. The fourth case was diagnosed this week.
Despite preliminary investigative work undertaken to date, DFES has not been able to establish a cause, linked to either the station or a specific incident.
DFES has made it a high priority to thoroughly investigate the situation, take appropriate actions and provide support to the firefighters and their families.
DFES is committed to supporting the firefighters diagnosed, as well as those who have served and are currently serving at Success Fire Station.
DFES has conducted a number of meetings and provided information to firefighters currently based at the Station over a number of months. As a result of a meeting held on Friday, a decision was made for the firefighters to be temporarily relocated offsite.
The firefighters will be based at another career fire station in the interim, with other options also being investigated to ensure both the interests of the firefighters as well as the community they serve are taken into account.
The Department of Health has advised DFES that:
"attributing a disease to any particular work or residential location can be very difficult. It can require large amounts of information, including information about those workers, residents and others who are not suffering from a particular disease. Even with such information, identifying a common environmental cause is rare”
DFES has engaged an independent contractor to conduct environmental testing of the Success Fire Station to determine if there are any possible exposure sources on site. Sampling of the site will commence this week. DFES will consider the contractor's report before determining further action.
DFES has also contacted past and present firefighters, including a direct mail out to those that have undertaken more than 150 shifts at the station, to offer voluntary health screening. This process of voluntary health screening is ongoing.
These investigations began earlier this year when the third Success Fire Station firefighter was diagnosed.
DFES will continue to engage fully with the Health Department and other agencies over this process.
Media Contact: DFES Media and Corporate Communications on 9225 5955