Firefighter Cancer Registry Act Introduced in Congress

On February 7, U.S. Representatives Chris Collins (R-NY) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), along with 77 original cosponsors, introduced the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act (H.R. 931). On February 15, Senators Menendez (D-NJ), Murkowski (R-AK), Klobuchar (D-MN), Rubio (R-FL), Blumenthal (D-CT), Booker (D-NJ), Daines (R-MT), Franken (D-MN), Gillibrand (D-NY), Markey (D-MA), McCain (R-AZ), Schumer (D-NY), and Tester (D-MT) introduced identical legislation (S. 382). H.R. 931/S. 382 direct the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop and maintain a voluntary registry of firefighters to collect relevant history and occupational information that can be linked to available cancer registry data in existing state cancer registries.

“I’d like to thank Representatives Collins, Senator Menendez, and the large, bi-partisan group of original co-sponsors in the House and Senate for their leadership in introducing this critical legislation,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC )Chairman Kevin D. Quinn. “Too many firefighters are contracting and dying from cancer caused by duty-related exposures. This registry will improve our understanding of why firefighter cancer is occurring at such a high rate, and make it easier to prevent, detect, and treat.”

For years studies have indicated a strong link between firefighting and increased risk for several major cancers. An extensive study published by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) in 2014 found that firefighters were at an increased risk of being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and found potential links between exposure to fire incidents and heightened risks for lung cancer and leukemia, among several others.

Past studies examining cancer incidence among firefighters have been limited by relatively small sample sizes and an underrepresentation of minority, female, and volunteer firefighters. The registry that would be created under H.R. 931/S. 382 would give researchers and public health agencies access to information about a much larger and more diverse group of firefighters, including volunteers.

Use the NVFC’s Legislative Action Center to contact your U.S. Representative and Senators to ask them to co-sponsor H.R 931/S. 382.