Successful claim made against fire service following firefighter’s asbestos death

The family of a Bradford man and former Leeds firefighter, who died from an asbestos-related illness, has received a settlement from his former employers.

Robert Gay was diagnosed with mesothelioma in September 2013 and died three months later in December 2013 at the age of 78 at Sue Ryder Wheatfields Hospice. Mr Gay was with the fire service for 10 years from 1960.

Lucy Andrews, for Irwin Mitchell Solictors who acted for the family, said:

“Mesothelioma is an aggressive and incurable cancer which causes so much distress for people.”

As part of the settlement, the cost of care for Mr Gay, over £6,500, has been recovered for the hospice.

A spokesman for the fire service said:

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority wishes to express its sincere sympathy to the family of former firefighter Mr Gay over his early death. The Authority assumed responsibility on a statutory basis on its creation in 1986 for the liabilities of predecessor fire authorities such as the Leeds and West Riding Fire Authorities. It is pleased that the family of Mr Gay have successfully negotiated an acceptable settlement over the impact of his exposure to asbestos at fires during a now historic period when safety controls were less effective at preventing exposure to contamination than they are today.

West Yorkshire Fire and Rescue Authority places a great deal of emphasis on the protection and safety of its workforce and in conjunction with their representatives strives to adopt best practice measures aimed at achieving the highest standards of health and safety in order to protect firefighters who are called upon to deal with dangerous situations on a regular basis.”