Firefighters in Greater Manchester will be among the first in the country to take part in a new life-saving project to monitor risks of cancer.
The testing is being carried out this week by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), led by Professor Anna Stec.
It is part of a new UK-wide research project commissioned by the Fire Brigades Union (FBU).
A total of 100 firefighters are participating by providing blood and urine samples to be analysed for the number of biomarkers of cancers and other diseases, and toxic chemicals.
The results will be used to detect cancers and other diseases at the early stages and to identify evidence linking occupational cancers with exposure to toxic fire chemicals.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service is working with the FBU and UCLan to facilitate the testing.
Dave Russell, chief fire officer for the region, said: “I welcome this research as a significant step forward for firefighter safety.”
The move follows research which found that instances of cancer among UK firefighters aged 35-39 is up to 323% higher than in the general population in the same age category.
The research also found firefighters are significantly more likely to die from rare cancers, heart attacks and stroke, and several other diseases.
Riccardo la Torre, FBU national officer, said: “We launched the first firefighter health monitoring project of its kind in the UK in February and are proud to now be testing even more firefighters.
“Every one of the 100 firefighters taking part in Manchester is contributing to vital research on the urgent issue of firefighter cancer.
“The Government and fire service employers have ignored firefighters and their exposures to toxic contaminants for far too long.
“Meanwhile, firefighters are dying far too often and far too early.
“Lack of health monitoring means these cancers are caught tragically late, at much more untreatable stages. We won’t stop until every firefighter in the UK has access to regular health monitoring.”