MEDIA RELEASE | 16 AUGUST 2016
UNITED FIREFIGHTERS LAUNCH ‘JUSTICE FOR FISKVILLE’
Firefighters from the CFA and MFB will meet on the steps of Parliament today to launch the ‘Justice for Fiskville’ campaign. The campaign will advocate for firefighters exposed to toxic contamination at the Fiskville CFA training facility, west of Melbourne.
Justice for Fiskville has been established in response to community concern that victims of Fiskville are not being properly identified and tested. The campaign asks the Andrews Government to take carriage of blood testing and calls on those responsible to be held accountable.
“The former Liberal Government and the former CFA board failed to establish proper blood testing regime,” said Mick Tisbury, senior station officer and exposure victim.
“I have unacceptably high levels of PFOS and PFOA in my blood, and nobody can tell me exactly what that means for my health. These chemicals are a ticking time bomb, ticking away in our bodies.
“Many of the victims haven’t even been identified. The CFA and MFB have not been properly screening and testing victims. We are calling on the State Government to take over and set up a robust and transparent testing regime.
Many firefighters who were exposed have not been informed by the CFA that blood testing is available. When they were tested some firefighters have faced long delays in receiving results and little or inaccurate information has been provided about what those results mean.
“Blood test results have been provided to firefighters in a completely inconsistent manner.
“Some firefighters have received single page reports which are not comparable while others received only a phone call from a CFA medical officers who’ve advised them there was ‘nothing to worry about.’”
‘When firefighters have then sought further advice on safe levels of PFOS and PFOA in their blood, they’ve been provided with incorrect information. It has been an incredibly stressful experience.
Geoff, a senior CFA firefighter with over 26 years’ experience said as a result of what was uncovered at Fiskville including the negligence of the former CFA board, firefighters do not believe that the CFA or MFB can be trusted to protect their health.
‘Unfortunately the Andrews Government has been left with the Liberals mess. But we’re asking them to step in to make sure blood testing is independent, comprehensive, timely and consistent. We’re walking around with these ticking time bombs in us and we need clear, reliable information.
Gary another senior firefighter with 23 years’ experience said that the exposure of firefighters to contamination at Fiskville by the former leadership of the CFA has had devastating consequences for firefighters and their families.
‘As a result of training at Fiskville I’ve an enormous range of health problems including skin rashes, chest infections, stomach and bowel issues, headaches, nausea and fatigue.
A female firefighter who conceived while training at Fiskville and was forced to swim in its contaminated dams as part of her course believes that her exposure to toxic contamination had an impact on her first child.
‘Our baby daughter was born with catastrophic epilepsy syndrome, seizures and has been on life support three times. The doctors say she has a genetic mutation which started in her and is not carried in either the father or mother. No one can explain what happened or why it happened.
‘We’re aware of at least a dozen other firefighter couples whose children all have similar, unexplainable problems.
The ‘Justice for Fiskville’ campaign will include a ‘register for the victims of Fiskville’ where concerned firefighters can access information and receive updates on the services available to them.
‘The Andrews Government should be praised for finally taking action to protect the firefighters who worked and trained at Fiskville, and who were let down by the former leadership of the CFA.
‘The Parliamentary Inquiry into Fiskville was an excellent first step, but now we have to make sure that its recommendations are fully implemented and acted upon.
‘This campaign is about ensuring the victims of Fiskville are properly identified, receive health support and monitoring and that they receive appropriate compensation to support their families.
‘Those who were responsible for Fiskville must be held to account and we need to introduce strong laws and regulations to ensure this can never happen again.
Media Contact: Jess Kendall: 0414 679 857