FEARS are growing that many Moorabool residents who worked at the CFA’s Fiskville training centre before 1999 could have been exposed to cancer-causing chemicals.
Since Professor Rob Joy handed down his report on a six-month investigation into live training at the centre from 1971-99, the CFA has admitted making mistakes with chemical handling techniques during that time. It found ‘practical area for drill’ (PAD) operators and supervisors were most at risk from exposure to flammable chemicals, combustion foams and recycled fire water.
A former Fiskville instructor with nearly 20 years firefighting experience, who didn’t want to be named, said almost three-quarters of PAD operators were locals during that time. ‘‘I would have seen up to 20 faces work as PAD operators; up to 70per cent of those were from Moorabool.’’
The report stated full-time instructors had been at higher risk of exposure than part-time instructors, who were drawn from regional staff and volunteers and who were at ‘‘medium’’ risk.
Another trainer, who also didn’t want to be named, said he had noticed rashes on the arms of trainees in recent times.
The instructor said he knew of a former Fiskville employee who died of prostate cancer in recent years, but it could not be attributed to his work at the training ground.
The report found the longest-serving operator had been at Fiskville 24 years. But Professor Joy said the risk for the tens of thousands of trainees who
had come through Fiskville was ‘‘very low’’.
The study found no evidence of health impacts on neighbouring properties such as Fiskville Primary School, which closed in 1993. Investigators visited neighbours within a radius of four kilometres of the centre.
CFA has committed to implementing the report’s 10 recommendations, has accepted all conclusions and announced a health impact study.
‘‘What took place at Fiskville, and to a lesser extent at our other regional training grounds, was not good enough and we regret what happened,’’ CFA chief executive Mick Bourke said.