Union president contributes to book on firefighters’ health issues


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LOCAL firefighter union president Alex Forrest can add 'author' to his resumé.

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 12/12/2015 (2607 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

LOCAL firefighter union president Alex Forrest can add ‘author’ to his resumé.

Forrest, president of UFFW Local 867, is co-author of a recently published book that examines the health risks facing firefighters.

Forrest is credited with writing three chapters and co-author of a fourth, in the 13-chapter book, Health Risks and Fair Compensation in the Fire Service.

Firefighters Chad Swayze, Alex Forrest, and Ed Wiebe at the legislature building supporting legislation that would extend post-traumatic stress disorder coverage for frontline emergency responders and paramedics.

Forrest’s co-authors, Tee L. Guidotti and Nancy Lightfoot, are described as two of the world’s leading epidemiologists.

Gary Doer, Canadian ambassador to the U.S., wrote the foreword.

“Firefighters know that cancer-causing agents are the byproducts of normal house fires, but there may be other materials involved that firefighters do not know about,” Forrest writes in the chapter On the Receiving End: Being a Firefighter.

“Many times firefighters will never know what chemicals they were exposed to, and as such, the dangers firefighters face from carcinogens are likely underestimated.

“Firefighters never know the level of exposure that we have put ourselves through in the duration of our careers as firefighters.”

Forrest has been an advocate for firefighters around the world in securing fair treatment and compensation as a result of exposure to toxic chemicals.

As a result of Forrest’s efforts, Manitoba became the first jurisdiction in the world to implement presumptive-cancer legislation for firefighters and the provision of post-traumatic stress disorder coverage under the Workers Compensation Board.

“This book expertly documents the tenacious struggle for recognition by local and international firefighting unions for increased awareness of these health risks,” writes Doer, who was Manitoba premier when firefighter legislation was adopted. “It outlines the empirical evidence used by advocates to sway public officials and policy-makers toward a greater understanding of the dangers of their profession.”

It is “not one fire that kills us by cancer, it is the hundreds of fires we attend to in our firefighting careers that kill us through occupational cancer,” Forrest writes in the chapter Presumption.

“It is the cumulative effect of exposure to the carcinogens at fires that creates an elevated risk for cancer in firefighters and this creates legal challenges when it comes to workers compensation and other insurance programs for firefighters.”


Updated on Saturday, December 12, 2015 8:26 AM CST: Adds picture.

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