Firefighter Cancer Registry Act Passes House, Goes to President

On June 22 the U.S. House of Representatives passed H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, by unanimous consent. H.R. 931, which passed the U.S. Senate in May, directs 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. H.R. 931 will be presented to President Trump for his signature, at which point it would become law.

Chief Brian McQueen represented the NVFC at a press conference promoting the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act in 2016.

“I would like to thank Congress for passing this critical legislation,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Chair 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 will 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 would give researchers and public health agencies access to information about a much larger and more diverse group of firefighters, including volunteers.