23
Feb
2005

Firefighters in battle to get rid of phone masts

Feb 18 2005

By Jessica Shaughnessy, Daily Post Staff


FIREFIGHTERS are campaigning for mobile phone masts at six stations in Merseyside to be removed because of health concerns.

Firefighters at Buckley Hill in Sefton claim senior officers ignored their fears and ordered them to train on a bell tower where a mast stands.

Now the FBU is lodging a formal complaint with Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and is calling for the Buckley Hill mast, as well as masts at stations in Bromborough, Newton-Le-Willows, Wallasey, Kirkby, and Croxteth to be removed.

FBU branch secretary Les Skarratts said: "The firefighters were ordered to train on the bell tower, despite expressing concern.

"This is against the law. Under the Health and Safety Act, employers have to provide written assurance that something is safe if employees are concerned.

"The authority has not been able to do that.

"Firefighters at all six stations are unhappy their health is being put at risk. We want the masts to be taken down or assurance that they are safe."

Mr Skarratts said firefighters in Buckley Hill share concerns with local residents about a possible cancer cluster in the area.

Residents have called for the Department of Health to carry out an epidemiology survey in the area because they suspect there has been an unusually high rate of cancer and epilepsy diagnosis since the mast was built seven years ago.

Campaigner Eileen O'Connor, of Formby, is supporting Buckley Hill residents and the firefighters in their bid. She is chairwoman of national pressure group SCRAM and a trustee of the Radiation Research Group.

She said: "People should not go within three feet of these masts when they are operating, and should certainly not climb up them.

"Firefighters across America and Canada have successfully campaigned for a ban on siting masts on their stations."

The Daily Post understands that proprietors are paid up to £30,000 to have masts on their land.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service confirmed it is in talks with the union about the issue.

But the service said it cannot take the ones already built down because of contractual obligations to mobile phone companies.

A spokesman said: "We were originally approached by the mobile phone companies a number of years ago and payment was offered.

"There are six masts on our property that are under contract.

"If any credible evidence proves they are harmful to health, we will terminate contracts with the mast providers."

Last year the authority decided not to have any more masts on its property.

The authority said: "Upon expiry of their current arrangements, the Authority will require them (the mobile companies) to remove their equipment, or agree terms acceptable to the Authority for the continued installation of their equipment."

jessicashaughnessy@dailypost.co.uk

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