Professor Anna Stec receives FBU Solidarity Medal
The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) has honoured University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) Professor Anna Stec for her independent research behind its campaign to help firefighters protect themselves and others from harmful contaminants.
Professor of Fire Toxicity Anna was handed the FBU Solidarity Medal, which is “awarded by the Union to recognise or dispense solidarity, or specific acts of solidarity, of exceptional merit”, for her research as part of the Union’s DECON campaign.
Since 2019, Anna and her team have investigated rates of cancer and other diseases in UK firefighters as well as the long-term health effects of fire contaminants to reduce exposure to contaminants in fire and rescue work.
"It's truly remarkable that within the past six years we've achieved the same amount of work that would have taken many years in other countries. The Decon project, in particular, is an astonishing piece of work that we should all be proud of."— UCLan Professor of Fire Toxicity Anna Stec
The latest DECON findings were published earlier this year across five reports in the Scientific Journal Report.
They found that toxic contaminants in fires are directly linked to increased rates of cancer and mental health issues among firefighters, with instances of cancer among firefighters aged 35-39 up to 323% higher than in the general population in the same age category.
Anna was presented with her award at the FBU Annual Conference in Blackpool by the Union’s General Secretary Matt Wrack and President Ian Murray. She also spoke to Labour Party Deputy Leader Angela Rayner about the DECON campaign, firefighters’ cancers and diseases and the need to introduce regular health monitoring.
Anna said: “I am honoured to receive this prestigious recognition for my research. It's truly remarkable that within the past six years we've achieved the same amount of work that would have taken many years in other countries. The DECON project, in particular, is an astonishing piece of work that we should all be proud of.”
"Professor Anna Stec has pioneered research on fire contaminants ... Her work has undoubtedly already protected firefighters' health and saved lives."— Riccardo la Torre, Fire Brigades Union national official
Riccardo la Torre, Fire Brigades Union National Officer said: “Professor Anna Stec has pioneered research on fire contaminants, supporting the FBU DECON campaign to protect firefighters from cancers and other diseases. Her work has undoubtedly already protected firefighters' health and saved lives.
“On behalf of all FBU members, we thank Anna for her dedication to this ground-breaking work. We are proud to award her with a Solidarity Medal to mark her vital contribution to firefighter safety.”
More recently, Professor Stec was commissioned by the FBU to develop a comprehensive and evidence-based health monitoring program. This program will include regular health check-ups and monitoring for cancers and other diseases and identify any potential health issues related to firefighters’ job, including exposure to toxic substances and other fire hazards.
Greater Manchester followed the launch of the testing in Tyne and Wear, with the project seeking to test 1,000 firefighters in total across United Kingdom.