Release of Defence Firefighters’ health study
8 July 2015
Monash University today published the results of the Defence Firefighters’ Health Study, which examined the incidences of death and cancer in current and former Australian Defence Force (ADF) firefighters, the majority of whom served in the Air Force.
The study found the death rate among ADF firefighters was significantly lower than the age-matched Australian population and that the rates of cancer were about the same.
However, due to the relatively young age of the cohort and limitations on the number of former ADF firefighters who could be included in the study, researchers could not draw a definitive conclusion from the results and suggested the study be updated in 10-15 years.
In responding to the study, the Chief of Air Force, Air Marshal Leo Davies AO, CSC, reiterated Defence’s determination to look after its personnel.
“I want to assure all ADF personnel, past and present, that your health and welfare are central to everything we do as a military and I strongly encourage any current or former ADF firefighters who have a diagnosed health condition, which they believe is service related, to contact the Department of Veterans’ Affairs,” Air Marshal Davies said.
"The Defence Firefighters’ Health Study provides an addition to the growing body of research being conducted into human exposure to hazardous chemicals, including the Jet Fuel Exposure Syndrome Study and the fourth update of the F-111 Mortality and Cancer Incidence Study, which is due to be completed in early 2016.
"This study is not the final word but it will certainly help Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs to better understand the effects of military service on personnel and enable both organisations to improve the care and welfare they provide to all ADF members."
The Department of Defence commissioned the Firefighters’ Health Study in 2012 in response to representations by an ex-ADF firefighter group led by Pat and Ted Mildren.
The study included current and former ADF firefighters who served between 1980 and 2011. The study compared their statistical health data against the national cancer and death registers.
Defence and the Department of Veterans’ Affairs will continue to work closely with relevant ex-Service organisations on all matters relating to the health of former Defence members.
Further details on the study can be found at: coeh.monash.org/ausfireftr.html
Defence Media Operations – 02 6127 1999