Suffolk firefighter exposed to asbestos for two decades secures ‘substantial’ payout
PUBLISHED: 07:30 15 February 2019 | UPDATED: 09:27 15 February 2019
A former Suffolk firefighter has been awarded “substantial damages” from the county council after being exposed to asbestos over the course of his career.
Keith Jordan, a lifelong Ipswich resident, came into contact with the harmful substance in unprotected conditions while tackling power station and factory fires across the region between 1969 and 1992.
The 73-year-old, a former retained firefighter employed by Suffolk County Council, has since fallen ill with pleural thickening – an asbestos-related lung disease which causes chest pain and breathing difficulties and can be a precursor to more serious conditions.
According to solicitors Ashtons Legal, Mr Jordan had to deal with fires at commercial buildings constructed with large amounts of asbestos, which would have been airborne during the fires and contained within the debris.
The East Anglian firm claimed that breathing apparatus was not worn routinely and neither Mr Jordan nor his colleagues were advised that it was necessary to protect themselves while attending fires or when raking through the debris, extinguishing the hotspots.
It added that firefighters would be located inside and outside burning buildings, unprotected from the ash, debris and asbestos fibres around them.
Mr Jordan said he believed he deserved compensation after “years of diligent service” risking his life to fight fires across the region.
On top of his existing condition, Mr Jordan still runs the risk of contracting mesothelioma, a terminal form of cancer.
Should this happen, he will likely be entitled to further damages from the council.
“Looking back on my early days in the service I recall the importance of breathing equipment wasn’t as well-known as it is today,” he said.
“While breathing in noxious smoke was a worry for me and my colleagues, the potential health risks of inhaling asbestos were simply not thought about or explained to us.
“I often see reports in the news of other firefighters who have gone on to develop mesothelioma, a terminal form of asbestos cancer and other debilitating asbestos conditions and I believe sufferers such as myself need to be fairly compensated after years of diligent service.”
Phoebe Osborne, a personal injury solicitor at Ashtons Legal, who acted on behalf of Mr Jordan, said her client would now have “peace of mind” knowing he could return for further compensation, should his condition deteriorate.
“We are pleased to have obtained this settlement for Mr Jordan and his family,” she said.
“It was a complicated pleural thickening claim, resulting from decades of asbestos exposure in unprotected conditions, sadly one of many cases we see.
“The provisional damages settlement now brings peace of mind to Mr Jordan knowing he can return for further compensation should his condition deteriorate or in the awful event he does go on to develop mesothelioma.”
A spokeswoman for Suffolk County Council said: “This claim has not been fully concluded therefore it is not appropriate to comment at this time.”