Last week US Representatives Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) and Richard Hanna (R-NY) introduced a bi-partisan bill to create a national cancer registry for firefighters (paid and volunteer). This bill, HR 4625, is known as the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act. It calls for the registry to be established and managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The site for the bill is here, although as of the time of my post, little information is available.
According to Rep Pascrell’s website, 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.
According to an email received from Rep Hanna’s office, the bill has the support of 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, and the International Fire Services Training Association.
Firefighters are exposed to a variety of harmful chemicals on a regular basis. Fairly routine fires, such as car fires and room and contents fires contain a variety of toxins due to the quantity of synthetics used in manufacturing common materials. More advanced incidents, such as full structure fires, industrial, and hazardous materials incidents contain even more dangerous chemicals that, despite protections, firefighters are still exposed to.
I urge everyone to keep an eye on this bill and contact your representatives to express support for it.