Firefighters want ACC cover for cancer

Firefighters are calling upon the Government to compensate their cancer treatments.

They are in Auckland today to push for some cancers to be recognised as occupational, which would pre-qualify them for ACC.

International expert Alex Forrest says the risk of some cancers is more than 100 percent greater for firefighters.

"It's not one fire that kills us - it's hundreds of fires over our career. We're now finding out the cancer risk is more lethal than any other dangers that firefighters face."

The US, Canada and Australia all recognise the heightened risk. Forrest told Newshub he met a young firefighter with cancer this week who would be better off overseas.

"The Government would support him, his medical costs would be paid for and his… loss of wages would be reimbursed to him. In New Zealand, basically the Government turns their back."

The New Zealand Professional Firefighters Union says leukaemia is twice as common among firefighters than the general population, and brain cancer five times more likely.

They want the Government to recognise more than a dozen cancer types as occupational, including testicular, prostate, kidney, pharynx, skin, breast, rectum, colon, lung, and oesophageal.

"They'll never let the public down, but if after 25 years of service if they get occupational cancer… the Government should not let those firefighters down," said Forrest.

Talks with politicians have so far been positive, he said.