FRV wins 2022 Premier's Sustainability Award for world-first clinical trial

Wednesday, 21 September 2022 at 3:21 am

Fire Rescue Victoria has secured an Industry Leader Award in the healthy and fair society category at the 2022 Premier's Sustainability Awards, for its ground-breaking PFAS advocacy work.

FRV is leading the world in not only advocating for a global ban on the use of harmful per- and poly-fluoroalkyl (PFAS) chemicals in fire and rescue services, but offering innovative solutions that protect firefighters, community members and the environment from these chemicals.

PFAS are a group of synthetic chemicals used in industrial and consumer products which have long been associated with negative health outcomes, however this new trial confirms that while work will continue to ensure sources of contamination are eliminated, it is possible to reduce PFAS levels in those with high levels of exposure, such as firefighters.

In 2019, FRV initiated a world-first clinical trial to examine the impacts of blood and plasma donation on PFAS levels in firefighters’ blood. The study found a 10 per cent decrease in PFAS levels after blood donation and a 30 per cent reduction following plasma donations.

This critical research is just one of a suite of initiatives led by Fire Rescue Victoria to reduce the harmful impacts of PFAS on firefighters and the community.

Other initiatives include establishing safe PFAS threshold limits for firefighters and decontamination of fire stations, appliances and other firefighting equipment.

Our subject matter expertise has led FRV to present at state and federal governments, as well as global organisations such as the United Nations.

Fire Rescue Victoria Assistant Chief Fire Officer Mick Tisbury, who developed the initial idea for the study, said it was an honour to receive the award.

“It is fantastic to see this important initiative receive recognition among a pool of over 40 very deserving finalists,” ACFO Tisbury said.

The results of the trial will play an important role in improving the health of firefighters and others working in high-risk sectors who are exposed to PFAS chemicals.”

Fire Rescue Commissioner Ken Block said the award was a testament to FRV’s commitment to improving the health of firefighters and reducing PFAS contamination within the community and environment.

“Our PFAS team has advocated for many years on PFAS minimisation in the fire and rescue service and it’s great to see them being recognised for their efforts.

“I look forward to the results of this study being shared throughout Australia and internationally so that others may benefit, act on this knowledge, and advance this important work.”

The winners and finalists of the Premier’s Sustainability Awards 2022 span industry, business, government, charity and not-for-profits. These organisations and individuals are trailblazers who are leading the way in Victoria’s transition to a circular, climate-resilient economy.