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IAFC Endorses Creation of a National Firefighter Cancer Registry

Fairfax, Va. - The International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) today voiced strong support of bipartisan legislation to create a National Firefighter Cancer Registry.

U.S. Reps. Richard Hanna (R-NY) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) recently introduced H.R. 4625, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, which 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. Senator Bob Menendez (D-NJ) and Senator Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) introduced S. 277, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act. The bill is a companion to the House legislation and creates a national database of firefighters diagnosed with the life-threatening disease.

During a press conference May 17 on Captitol Hill, the IAFC said the legislation would create an important resource for researchers looking to understand and prevent the growing occurrence of cancer among our nation’s firefighters.

"The IAFC endorses creation a National Firefighter Cancer Registry and urges Congress to pass the legislation this year," said Assistant Chief Joanne Rund, Howard County (Md.) Fire & Rescue, Bureau of Occupational Safety and Health. "There is an overall higher risk for cancer among firefighters. Research has shown that there are significant increases in the risks of cancers in the colon, prostate, intestine, lung, bladder, kidney and other organs in firefighters. For some types of cancer, the risk relative to the general population can be 229% higher. However, more research needs to be done to better understand the increased cancer risk among firefighters and how to reduce it."

On behalf of the 11,000 members of the IAFC, Rund thanked Congressman Richard Hanna and Congressman Bill Pascrell and Senator Bob Menendez and Senator Lisa Murkowski for introducing the legislation. 

"Cancer is a daily concern for many of the nation’s firefighters – especially our retired firefighters – and it must be addressed nationally," Rund said. "We look forward to working with Congress to pass this legislation this year."

In related action, the IAFC Board of Directors adopted a position statement May 12 in support of the National Fire Service Cancer Initiative. Submitted by the IAFC Volunteer and Combination Officers Section (VCOS) and supported by the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section (SHS), the position statement encourages chiefs of fire and rescue departments to support the initiative being facilitated by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network.

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