Firefighters tested after bug at station

Two firefighters underwent medical tests after bacteria which causes Legionnaires' disease was found in a shower at the main fire station in Lowestoft.

Two firefighters underwent medical tests after bacteria which causes Legionnaires' disease was found in a shower at the main fire station in Lowestoft.

A female cleaner was also tested after she complained of feeling unwell, but last night it emerged that two of those affected had been given the all-clear by doctors, while the third person was also expected to have it confirmed within days that he had not contracted the disease.

Last night a spokesman for the Suffolk Fire and Rescue Service revealed the contamination at the Normanshurst station had been discovered during routine tests and confirmed that the two firefighters who complained of feeling unwell were both male.

He said: “We take any issue regarding the safety of staff very seriously. As part of a monthly maintenance programme, water samples are taken from showers and other potential areas where legionella may be present. Following the analysis of samples taken in January it was confirmed legionella was present in one showerhead at Normanshurst Fire Station.

“The area was immediately sealed off and comprehensive cleansing and disinfecting took place to ensure all traces were removed. As a precautionary measure, three members of staff decided to be checked out by their own doctors. Following these tests, two have been given the all-clear with the third member of staff expected to receive a clean bill of health in the near future.”

Legionnaires' disease is a rare form of pneumonia, which is fatal in approximately 5-15pc of cases. The disease is most often contracted by inhaling mist from water sources such as whirlpool baths, showers and cooling towers which are contaminated with the legionella bacteria.

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If the bacteria reaches the lungs, it can cause Legionnaires, but it cannot be passed from one person to another. The disease has an incubation period of between two and 10 days and initial symptoms are similar to those of flu.

The fire service spokesman said all buildings run by Suffolk County Council were subjected to regular maintenance programmes to ensure problems are detected at the earliest possible opportunity.

He added: “The regular testing carried out at fire stations each month meets with national standards. Any issues are quickly identified and dealt with.”