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Pascrell, Hanna Bill Would Create Firefighter Cancer Registry

U.S. Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) today introduced a bill that would create a national cancer registry for firefighters diagnosed with the deadly disease.

Firefighters are exposed to a range of harmful toxins and research has indicated that there is a strong connection between firefighting and an increased risk for several major cancers such as testicular, stomach, multiple myeloma and brain cancers.

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act (H.R. 4625) would establish a specialized national cancer registry to be managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The registry would improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters – career and volunteer.

“We ask the brave men and women in the fire service to stare down danger and risk their lives each day, which is why we must do all we can to have their backs,” Rep. Pascrell said. “I believe that establishing a national cancer registry can help public health researchers start to understand potential connections between firefighting and cancer, and lay the foundation for learning how we can mitigate this risk. We owe it to all of our firefighters to investigate this trend.”

“Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day to help our communities during times of emergency,” Rep. Hanna said. “We need a broader understanding of the trends associated with why, how and when our firefighters are contracting this life threatening disease. Establishing a national cancer registry is the first step to building a database where health experts can study the factors associated with cancer diagnoses in the firefighting community. It is my hope that through this registry we can develop more sophisticated protocols and safeguards to prevent our men and women firefighters from being diagnosed with cancer.” 

The national cancer registry would:

  • Store and consolidate epidemiological information submitted by healthcare professionals related to cancer incidence among firefighters.
  • Make anonymous data available to public health researchers to provide them with robust and comprehensive datasets to expand groundbreaking research.
  • Improve our understanding of cancer incidence as the registry grows, which could potentially lead to the development of advanced safety protocols and safeguards.
  • Increase collaboration between the CDC and epidemiologists, public health experts, clinicians and firefighters through regular and consistent consultations to improve the effectiveness and accuracy of the registry.

Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, President and Board Chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs said, “We thank Congressmen Hanna and Pascrell for their leadership on this important issue. Cancer is a daily concern for many of the nation’s retired firefighters and it must be addressed. We think that this bill will help researchers to identify the causes of cancers for firefighters and help us take steps to prevent it. We look forward to working with Congressmen Hanna and Pascrell to pass this legislation this year.”

Harold A. Schaitberger, General President, International Association of Fire Fighters said, “Cancer is the No. 1 health concern in the firefighting profession today, and scientific data clearly demonstrate the association between firefighting and cancer. The registry created through Representative Hanna and Pascrell’s legislation will improve research on this link to better protect firefighters’ health.”

Chief Daniel Schwertfeger of the Floyd Fire Department, President of the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs said, “ Identifying the incidence of cancers in members of the fire service is an important health issue at both the state and national level. This legislation will assist in documenting cancer’s impact on both the volunteer and career fire service to ensure that firefighters receive proper care and treatment.  I thank Representatives Hanna and Pascrell for their support of the fire service and their initiative in introducing this legislation.”

Kevin D. Quinn, Chairman of the National Volunteer Fire Council said, “Cancer is a very serious threat to firefighters, and having a national cancer registry for firefighters will help us better understand the trends and work towards solutions. We thank Representatives Pascrell and Hanna for introducing this legislation.”

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act is supported by:

•             The National Volunteer Fire Council
•             The International Association of Fire Chiefs
•             The International Association of Fire Fighters
•             The New York State Association of Fire Chiefs
•             The Congressional Fire Services Institute
•             The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation
•             The International Fire Services Training Association 

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