News & Media

Cancer Council Report

By: Mick Bourke

  11.00 AM 19 June, 2014

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There has been some very encouraging information that's come through from Cancer Council Victoria which has concluded an investigation of cancer in firefighters that may have arisen from past practices at the Fiskville Training College from 1971 until 1999.

The report from Cancer Council Victoria indicates that our PAD workers, full-time instructors, volunteer and regional staff instructors, and trainees who attended recruit courses at Fiskville in this period did not develop cancer at a higher rate than the general population of Victoria.

Cancer Council Victoria reviewed a cohort of almost 600 volunteer and career firefighters who were at risk of exposure to hazardous materials during the period and were also identified on the Victorian Cancer Registry.
Sixty one of those were diagnosed with invasive cancers.

The report concluded:

'Overall, this cohort of firefighters did not have an increased incidence of cancer.' 

The report identified the most common invasive cancers were prostate (14) and melanoma (13), which was indicative of a male cohort which worked outdoors.

The Cancer Council Victoria report was part of a CFA commitment made in response to the Professor Joy Report Understanding the Past to Inform the Future which investigated historical firefighter training practices at Fiskville.
The Professor Joy Report found the vast majority of people who visited, lived or trained at Fiskville between 1971 and 1999 fall in the low or negligible risk category of exposure to chemicals.

A parallel study is also being conducted by Monash University and this is due for completion around the end of 2014. Work to address recommendations of the Professor Joy Report and additional management initiatives are well advanced.

A summary of the CFA firefighter report prepared by Cancer Council Victoria can be downloaded here.

We made a commitment to our people who trained at Fiskville to try to understand if their health could have been compromised by training at Fiskville. The Cancer Council Victoria work is an important step, and we await the Monash Study also.

I encourage both volunteer and career members who may have contracted cancer to contact the Firefighter Advisory Service by calling 1800 060 729 or by emailing This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. or This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Anyone affected by cancer, including patients, carers and loved ones, can also call the Cancer Council's Helpline on 13 11 20. This is staffed by experienced cancer nurses with oncology qualifications who can answer your questions and connect you to a range of support services.

Mick Bourke

Last Updated: 10 December 2015