The Firefighters Presumptive Legislation, A good move for firefighers but also a measure that will possibly send NSW broke according to recent media reports.
I worked in the chemical industry. I was a manufacturer of products having a base of Organic Phospahates, Organic Peroxides and a heap of other bad stuff such as Creosotes, Toluenes and an array of other bad stuff on a daily basis over three years. I also made up bulk products ( several tonnes) with the active constituent being Arsenic Trioxide, as well as Naptha, Toluene, Hydrogen Sulphide and similar products.
Back then, we wore blue overalls, rubber gloves,charcoal masks and in the arsenic plant we were given air hoods to wear,
Every day there was spillages and spouts. we WERE COVERED IN PRODUCT everyday. A spout was when the chemical burst out of the mixing vat or pipework and covered me and my off siders with any of the above products. We would race up to the emergency showers and rip our overalls off as fast as we could.
We had to pee in a bottle every week as a sample taken especially for arsenic poisoning (Lead Poisoning), as well as providing a blood sample to test for Organic Phosphate poisoning.
Those of us us that came up "positive" after both tests were set aside from manufacturing duTies for a week. This was common for me as my arsenic (lead) levels and Organic Phosphate levels were often high.
THEN : I joined NSWFB in August 1978.
Nothing in the ensuing 30 odd years ever (ever) came close to my original occupation, and let me tell you I was an expert on such exposures. As a firefighter I was aware that a house fire was absolutely a source of such chemicals, and especially voluminous amounts of Hydrogen Cyanide from burning plastics in furnishings, fixtures and fittings.
I remember however a particular fire in the 1980s where firefighters were exposed to Methyl Anziphos which caused immediate debillitating symptoms for some of the firefighters attending. They actually trusted the advice of the company's chemical engineer at the site, when he told them that Methyl Anziphos was harmless.
My point is: firefighting , in the modern era, is not All that dangerous in terms of cancer causing factors, in comparison to other occupations. There are no grounds generally to suggest that fire fighting is subject, from the outset, to presumptive assertions of carcenogenic exposure. Its just not real.
I am still here, healthy, still enjoying a smoke and a drink since the 1970s but NOW also now paying for a "cause" that is most likely specific rather than general, but an unreal burden on NSW taxpayers nonetheless.
Fire fighting, Hazmat
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