The IAFC is most pleased that bipartisan legislation was introduced today in the U.S. House of Representatives to create a long-overdue national registry for firefighters diagnosed with cancer. The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act has 76 original sponsors.
According to an announcement issued today by Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Chris Collins (R-NY):
The bill would create a national cancer registry for firefighters diagnosed with this deadly disease. The creation of this registry would enable researchers to study the relationship between firefighters' exposure to dangerous fumes and harmful toxins and the increased risk for several major cancers. In the future, this information could also allow for better protective equipment and prevention techniques to be developed.
"Every day we asked the brave men and women in the fire service to stare down danger, enter smoked filled rooms and hazardous environments. That is why we need to do everything possible to protect their health, safety, and ensure they have proper access to care should they get sick," said Congressman Bill Pascrell. "Creating a national cancer registry for firefighters is the first step to helping public health researchers understand the trends associated with our firefighters developing this life threatening disease. This will allow us to lay the foundation for learning how we can mitigate this risk."
"Public servants like our firefighters put their lives on the line every day for us," said Congressman Chris Collins. "Unfortunately, firefighters see a higher rate of cancer than the rest of the public. This legislation will provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the tools they need to improve their data collection capabilities on volunteer, paid-on-call, and career firefighters. We hope that by creating a voluntary 'Firefighter Registry' that includes the many variables that occur over a firefighter’s career, the CDC will be able to better study this deadly trend. In the future, this information can be used to provide better safeguards and protocols for these brave men and women."
We cannot agree more. The IAFC strongly supported this legislation last Congress. The IAFC will work with Rep. Pascrell and and Rep. Collins to see this legislation through to the finish line.
Last year, the IAFC board of directors adopted a position statement to encourage chiefs of fire and rescue departments to support the National Fire Service Cancer Initiative being facilitated by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and Firefighter Cancer Support Network and their efforts to protect our members from a disease which effects firefighters at a rate three times higher than the average public.
The IAFC strongly recommends that ALL fire and emergency service agencies/organizations develop written policies and have procedures in place to support and enforce these policy recommendations. For further information to assist with the development of these policies, both the Volunteer and Combination Officers Section and the Safety, Health and Survival Section of the IAFC recommends the Firefighter Cancer Support Network as a resource for current studies and white papers on all aspects of cancer related illnesses in the fire service.
More firefighter health related resources are available at www.fstaresearch.org.