Firefighters put themselves in harm’s way every day to protect the public and community – often showing extraordinary courage in the line of duty.
But there’s growing evidence our firefighters are paying a tragic price later in life, having been exposed to dangerous and toxic substances during their careers.
In a welcome move, the law has made it simpler to access compensation if these emergency workers develop any of a number of specific work-related serious cancers.
Research has shown firefighters are susceptible to developing a number of serious cancers due to the nature of their work and exposure to carcinogenic substances.
Toxic fumes, dust, asbestos and other dangerous materials can be an occupational hazard.
Illnesses linked to this profession include:
Each state and territory across Australia has introduced presumptive rights legislation. This means career and volunteer firefighters, who meet certain requirements, can access compensation for specified cancers because it is assumed they contracted as a result of serving as a firefighter.
Eligible firefighters will be provided with simpler access to compensation by giving them ‘presumed entitlement’.
However, there are some differences from state to state around when a firefighter can access entitlements. For example, rules around how soon an illness must have been diagnosed varies across the country, so it is important to research the rules in your state and seek advice if you are unsure.
Career firefighters and volunteers, who have been diagnosed with one of specified types of cancers noted table below may be able to qualify.
Diagnosis must be made in the course of service or within a certain time since ceasing service. Firefighters must also have served in roles for the set qualifying period.
These time limits vary depending on your state or territory, so it is important to understand the rules as they apply to you.
If you have served as a firefighter and have been diagnosed with cancer it is important to get legal advice to help you understand your rights and options - irrespective of whether you meet the presumptive requirements.
There are avenues still available to career and volunteer fighters who are not covered by the presumptive rights.
And there may also be support available for relatives and dependants of firefighters who have been diagnosed with a condition related to their work.
We ask our firefighters to take risks for our safety, so it’s only right that we as a society are there later in life when they need us.
The presumptive rights take away some of the stress of accessing financial support and reflect the debt we our firefighter if they pay the ultimate price for their service.
Our Canberra office is now closed, but our team continues to serve ACT clients and are available for phone and video appointments. If you need legal advice, please call us on 1800 675 346.
We have lawyers who specialise in a range of legal claims who travel to Tasmania. If you need a lawyer in Hobart, Launceston or elsewhere in Tasmania, please call us on 1800 675 346.