Firefighting bosses knew a Victorian training site was contaminated with cancer-causing chemicals, but they still sent staff to train there.
Now the government is looking at a redress scheme to compensate those who fell ill at the Fiskville training centre.
A damning report found evidence CFA management knew Fiskville was contaminated in 2010, despite saying they knew nothing about it until a series of newspaper stories in December 2011.
“Did CFA management and board members know that practices at Fiskville were unsafe or contravened standards of safety regulations? The answer is yes, some did,” committee chair Bronwyn Halfpenny told reporters.
“Some of the evidence given by former CFA management and board members is contradicted by the documentary evidence we obtained through the discovery process.”
Fiskville was shut in 2015 after a cancer cluster was discovered among those who lived and worked there since the 1970s.
Emergency Services Minister Jane Garrett said the government was prepared to pay compensation after the “shocking” findings.
“Providing justice to victims was one of the key reasons we set up this inquiry in the first place,” Ms Garrett told reporters.
She said there had been a significant change in senior management at the CFA since the news about Fiskville.
Ms Garrett said the government was examining the report and recommendations to see if any action would be taken against previous CFA staff.
New chief executive Lucinda Nolan apologised to victims and promised Fiskville would not reopen.
“It is clear this was a failure of our systems and process,” Ms Nolan said.
“While we cannot change what happened in the past, we have learnt from these past mistakes.”
United Firefighters Union spokesman Mick Tisbury said firefighters went out to protect the community, but their bosses didn’t protect them.
“The CFA withheld test documents that confirmed the site was unsafe, yet insisted publicly that everything was OK,” Mr Tisbury said.
The report also slammed WorkSafe and the Environmental Protection Authority for their poor oversight of Fiskville.
The inquiry recommended all students and teachers who attended Fiskville State School should be given the chance to participate in a long-term health study.