As many as a dozen heroic firefighters who battled the Grenfell Tower blaze and saved lives have been diagnosed with incurable cancers. The victims, some of whom are only in their 40s, have illnesses linked to the high levels of exposure to contaminants during the massive rescue operation.
A Mirror investigation found that the majority diagnosed were suffering from digestive cancers and leukaemia, for which there is no cure.
However, there is ongoing concern, given that some some cancers take 25 years to be detected, that the figure could increase to 20.
Riccardo la Torre, Fire Brigades Union national official, said: “When workers on the front line are tackling fires to save lives and property, like all those who attended Grenfell, they need every protection possible from toxic health risks.
“This vital research proves that firefighters are suffering and dying from cancer, strokes, heart disease, and mental ill health as a result of going to work and protecting the public.”
He added: “We now know that firefighters are exposed to health and life-threatening contaminants as a result of their occupation, and certainly would have been at an incident the size and scale of the Grenfell Tower Fire.
“However, firefighters are left in the dark due to the lack of regular health surveillance and proper monitoring of exposures in the UK.
“Due to this inaction by the government and fire bosses, the Fire Brigades Union is commissioning further research to help us demand proper protection and support for our members who attended Grenfell, and for firefighters all over the UK.”
David Badillo, the first firefighter to enter Grenfell, admitted: “On a personal level it’s very worrying. I’ve got two young kids and I want to see them grow up.
“I’ve been scanned and nothing’s come up, thankfully, so far, but you don’t know what could happen in the future.”
One firefighter, in his 50s, who asked for his name be be withheld, said, the fire had left suicidal and with scarred lungs.
Grenfell remains one of the worst disasters in recent UK history.
Victims ranged in age from six-month-old baby Leena Belkadi, who died in her mother’s arms as they desperately tried to flee the burning building, to Sheila Smith, 84, who had lived there for 34 years.
Firefighters ran out of air inside the tower, with many forced to sit in contaminated suits for more than 10 hours.