Fire/emergency medical services

Bill would establish firefighter cancer registry

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Photo: National Volunteer Fire Council

Washington – Members of Congress and several fire service organizations are supporting a bill that would require the Department of Health and Human Services to create and maintain a voluntary registry for data on cancer occurrence among firefighters.

The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2016 (H.R. 4625 and S. 2799) would direct the secretary of HHS to:

  • Establish and improve collection infrastructure and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of the incidence of cancer among firefighters.
  • Collect, consolidate, store and make publicly available epidemiological information related to cancer incidence and trends among firefighters.

Research has shown that firefighters are at higher risk of developing several kinds of cancer. The collected data would be used to examine the connection between occupational exposure to toxins and cancer and to develop improved protective equipment and prevention, according to a press release from the office of bill co-sponsor Sen. Bob Menendez (D-NJ), who introduced the act at a May 17 press conference in Washington.

Several fire organizations – including the National Volunteer Firefighter Council, the International Association of Fire Chiefs and the International Association of Fire Fighters – support the bill.

“Researchers and public health agencies need more comprehensive data to help them study firefighter cancer,” NVFC board member and Cancer Task Force co-chair Brian McQueen said in a press release. “It is especially important that data on cancer among volunteer firefighters is collected. I am extremely pleased that the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act includes a focus on collecting data on incidences of cancer among groups that are underrepresented in current firefighter cancer databases, including volunteers, women and minorities.”

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