Fire station is evacuated over contamination fears as workers refuse to return after hundreds were found with dangerous levels of toxic chemicals in their bodies
- Firefighters at contaminated Largs North station have refused to go back to work
- Testing results from the station confirmed elevated perfluorinated compounds
- The toxic chemical is used in firefighting foam and non-stick products like Teflon
- Some firefighters also had above average levels of the chemical in their blood
- Firefighters said they will not return unless it can be guaranteed the site is safe
Firefighters at the contaminated Largs North Fire Station in Adelaide have refused to go back to work unless the site can be confirmed safe for employees.
The United Firefighters Union told the Metropolitan Fire Service this week firefighters wouldn’t return to the site and instead would be based out of nearby Port Adelaide.
Recent tests conducted at Largs North Fire Station revealed above average levels of perfluorinated compounds (PFAS), a toxic chemical used in firefighting foam.
Recent tests conducted at Largs North Fire Station revealed above average levels of perfluorinated compounds (PFAS), a toxic chemical used in firefighting foam
Chief MFS Officer Michael Morgan (pictured) confirmed the emergency service had begun moving crew from Largs North Fire Station to Port Adelaide Fire Station
Blood tests on 300 South Australian firefighters also revealed 126 had above average levels of the chemical in the body, with 15 found to have extremely high levels.
The Metropolitan Fire Service said on Thursday most of those affected worked at Largs North, with abnormal PFAS levels been found in soil and in a firefighting boat.
UFU state secretary Max Adlam told The Advertiser the relocation was necessary to ensure the safety of firefighters, who are ‘feeling naturally pretty concerned’.
‘With the increasing numbers of returns (of elevated levels of PFAS) they feel like no one should be exposed to it until they can be guaranteed it’s safe,’ Mr Adlam said.
‘Whether the MFS closes the station is up to them but it’s hard to have a station with no firefighters in it.’
Chief MFS Officer Michael Morgan later confirmed the emergency service had begun moving crew from Largs North Fire Station to Port Adelaide Fire Station.
Mr Morgan said the decision to move crew was not necessarily reflective of the safety of the workplace but rather as a precaution.
‘We’ve been informed from our scientific studies the station is in deed safe to work from,’ the chief MFS officer said.
Blood tests on 300 South Australian firefighters recently revealed 126 had above average levels of the chemical in the body, with 15 found to have extremely high levels
‘What we’re dealing with now is thew crew’s emotional and uncertainty around their own readings and that of the station.’
Mr Morgan said the move will add additional response times, but Port Adelaide has the advantage of being able to control traffic management systems.
It was originally thought the PFAS chemical exposure at Largs North had come from food produced in a vegetable garden.
The latest tests confirmed higher than normal levels in both fruit grown on site and in the soil.
MFS assistant chief fire officer Roy Thompson said on Thursday it is very unlikely further testing will find high levels of PFAS at other MFS properties around the state.
‘There is no evidence beyond our site of any contamination,’ Mr Thompson said.
The toxic PFAS chemicals have been linked to cancer in studies overseas and have been the subject of a recent inquiry into their use on air force bases in Australia.