Washington, D.C. — U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME) joined a bipartisan group in sending a letter to the Chairman and Ranking Member of the Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education and Related Agencies requesting $2.5 million to fully fund the Firefighter Cancer Registry. This national registry collects and monitors the prevalence, incidence, and types of cancers among firefighters so that doctors and researchers can better understand the relationship between firefighting and the increased risk for the deadly disease. The Firefighter Registry Act, championed by Senators Collins and Angus King (I-ME), established this national registry and was signed into law last summer.
“Full funding for the Firefighter Cancer Registry is critical in order to create a national registry that represents the different types of firefighters and fires across our Country, including volunteer, paid-on-call, and career firefighters,” the senators wrote. “Full funding is also necessary to create the IT system that will support the registry, allow firefighters to share their data, allow researchers to access the data and, most importantly, to keep all of this personal data secure.”
A 2015 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that firefighters had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths for certain types of cancer when compared to the general U.S. population, specifically digestive, oral, respiratory and urinary cancers, and malignant mesothelioma. The study confirmed that firefighters have an increased risk of cancer because of occupational exposure. To bolster the efforts led by researchers at NIOSH, the firefighter cancer registry will improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters – both career and volunteer.
“It is critical that the CDC be able to collect the data necessary to complete more precise studies on the occupational risks of firefighters,” the letter continues. “Once completed, the registry will help researchers, stakeholders and others, advance the research into cancer risks for our nation’s first responders and provide a clearer and more comprehensive picture of the causal links between firefighting and cancer. The absence of full funding for the Firefighter Cancer Registry would inhibit the CDC’s data collection abilities. This could lead to unnecessary illness and death.”
The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act received support from several major fire organizations, including the National Volunteer Fire Council, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and the International Fire Services Training Association.
The letter was led by Senators Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) and cosigned by Senators Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), Catherine Cortez Masto (D-Nev.), Jack Reed (D-R.I.), Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.), Jacky Rosen (D-Nev.), Amy Klobuchar (D-Minn.), Tammy Duckworth (D-Ill.), Ed Markey (D-Mass.), Jeanne Shaheen (D-.N.H.), Chris Coons (D-Del.), Tina Smith (D-Minn.), Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), Jon Tester (D-Mont.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.), Gary Peters (D-Mich.), Maggie Hassan (D-N.H.), Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.), Cory Booker (D-N.J.), Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn), Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Jeff Merkley (D-Ore.), Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Bob Casey (D-Penn.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kyrsten Sinema (D-Ariz.), Tom Carper (D-Del.), Kamala Harris (D-Calif.), Rob Wyden (D-Ore.), Debbie Stabenow (D-Mich.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Michael Bennet (D-Colo.).
Click HERE to read the letter.