Cancer and leukemia are affecting Grenfell’s firefighters at a startling rate

Grenfell Tower burning at sunrise
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Hero firefighters who fought the 2017 Grenfell Tower blaze are being diagnosed with cancers and leukaemia at a startling rate. An investigation found that over a dozen of the firefighters involved may face untreatable illnesses, including digestive cancers. 72 people died in the west London fire.

Flammable cladding attached to the building was largely to blame for the way the fire spread – and those affected are still fighting for justice years later.

Depressing data

The report claims that the cancers, often being found in men as young as their 40s, are linked to the contaminants they were exposed to in the blaze.

A fire service source told The Mirror:

We are expecting some really depressing data to be revealed soon. It’s shocking.

Riccardo la Torre, a Fire Brigades Union (FBU) national official told The Mirror:

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.

Read on...

He added:

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.

Justice denied

Political hip-hop artist Lowkey has long championed the cause of the Grenfell victims. He called for similar research into the implications for the community and others who, like him, were at the scene:

Former Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn, who also fought for the Grenfell families, said that residents and workers would continue to fight for justice:

Housing campaigner Kwajo Tweneboa said that “tragedy” wasn’t a strong enough word to describe Grenfell:

Labour group leader Emma Dent Coad recalled begging officials to carry out mass screening for local residents:

Scapegoats

The Grenfell Inquiry which reported in 2019 was attacked for scapegoating the firefighters who tried to save lives that day. It said that their individual heroism could not “mask or excuse the deficiencies in the command and conduct of operations”.

Some Labour MPs contested this. Then-shadow home secretary Diane Abbot said at the time:

It is the cladding. The people that need to be held responsible in my view are the people who commissioned the cladding, the people who signed off the use of that cladding and the people responsible for regulation.

The fight for justice for those involved in Grenfell must continue. And we must never accept blame to be put onto the victims or those who fought to save them – and did so with terrible consequences for their own long-term health.

Featured image via Wikimedia Commons/Cbakerbrian, cropped to 770 x 403, licenced under Cc BY-SA 4.0.

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  • Show Comments
    1. The quote from Mr Jeremy Corbyn encapsulates things accurately.

      The litany of failures – often wilful – in the drive to maximise profit is far longer than Grenfell. Many are not as horrific as that. Most are just the exposure of millions of people to toxic materials and the gradual deterioration in health and premature deaths which pass unreported and unacknowledged except by families and carers.

      We now have valid data and better statistical techniques which can demonstrate causality.

      The families represented by Clydeside Action on Asbestos were scantly recompensed for the loss of loved ones who worked in the shipyards. And, not only were the workers affected, but many of their family members were too, by the fibres of asbestos they brought home on their clothes.

      Because these illnesses only became evident several years after the men had stopped working in the yards, Turner and Newell (asbestos company) lawyers, aided by compliant lawmakers agued that because of the interval of time there could be no evidence of direct causality. Their families, particularly wives, who contracted mesothelioma, were even more summarily dismissed because ‘they had not even worked in the yards’.

      The evidence of causality, of course DID exist at the time, but the companies and governments kept it from the public.

      Sadly, it seems more important to the Starmerites of the Labour Party to excoriate Jeremy Corbyn than to address the issues he raises.

    2. This issue of cladding being a danger to health has wider implications for the whole building trade. What about the innocent builders recruited to do the ‘dirty work’ for developers and contractors who hire their workforce sometimes on a day-to-day basis who then are asked to handle dangerous and hazardous material that is built into structures? We know all about past controversy of asbestos in buildings. And, use of suspect material in building still continues as we have found with Grenfell not just with ‘cladding on the outside’ but also ‘cladding on the inside’ where fibrous material such as ‘rock wool’ and noxious insulation-sprays used for roofs, walls and floors likely exposes builders and residents to uncertain hazards to health.

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