National firefighter cancer registry bill before House

The national registry would be managed by the CDC and would allow for more data for research

WASHINGTON — A bill introduced in the House today would create a national cancer registry for firefighters.

The Bergen Dispatch reported the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, introduced by Reps Bill Pascrell (D-N.J.) and Richard Hanna (R-N.Y.), would establish a registry managed by the Center for Disease Control to improve nationwide monitoring of the occurrence of cancer among firefighters.

Research has shown there is a link between firefighting and an increased risk of cancer due to the toxins firefighters are exposed to on a regular basis.

“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,” Pascrell 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,” Hanna said.

A national cancer registry would allow for easier storage and consolidation of information about incidences of cancer among firefighters, provide robust data for research purposes, and improve understanding of cancer among firefighters, which could lead to new safety protocols.

Several large national fire organizations are supporting the bill, and many of their leaders praised Pascrell and Hanna.

“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,” said Austin (Texas) Fire Chief Rhoda Mae Kerr, president and board chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Kevin 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.”

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