THE FAMILY of a former Leeds firefighter who died from asbestos-related cancer say they now have justice after lawyers reached a settlement with the insurers of his former employers.
Bob Gay, who joined Leeds and West Riding Fire Service in 1960, was diagnosed with mesothelioma in September 2013 and died just three months later at the age of 78. His wife, Hazel, continued to fight for justice on his behalf.
During his career Mr Gay attended numerous incidents at premises which were in part constructed from asbestos based material - often without a mask. Once damaged in the fires, the materials would release asbestos dust and fibres into the atmosphere which he breathed in.
The dust ultimately led to his diagnosis of mesothelioma.
Prior to his death, Mr Gay, of Bradford, instructed solicitors at Irwin Mitchell to investigate his claim and it was alleged that Leeds and West Riding Fire Service did not take reasonable steps to protect him from high levels of asbestos dust and fibre during his employment. A settlement has now been secured for the family from the insurers of the service, which no longer exists, and includes £6,500 for Bradford’s Sue Ryder Wheatfields hospice, which cared for Mr Gay on two occasions in the run up to his death, including end of life care, and supported his family.
Lucy Andrews, an expert in asbestos related disease cases at Irwin Mitchell, said: “On this occasion, the disease took hold of Bob very quickly following his diagnosis preventing him from doing the things he enjoyed such as gardening and showing his Lhasa Apso dogs.
“Sadly, many employers did not do enough to manage the risks of asbestos exposure, despite knowing how dangerous it is.”