House passes firefighter cancer registry bill sponsored by Collins
Today the House unanimously passed legislation introduced by Congressman Chris Collins (NY-27) that would require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop and maintain a registry to collect data regarding the incidence of cancer in firefighters. H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, is the first step in addressing the detrimental health effects firefighters may experience when responding to fire emergencies.
“Sixteen years ago yesterday, on September 11th, 2001, we witnessed a horrible tragedy that will leave an impression on generations of Americans forever,” Congressman Collins said. “Through this tragedy, we witnessed the heroic actions of America’s brave first responders working and volunteering in the days and weeks to come. We lost many first responders during those attacks of 9/11 and we continue to lose more every year from ongoing health effects."
“Passage of the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act is a major step towards improving the health and safety of our brave firefighters across the nation who head into danger despite the risks and keep our communities safe," said Congressman Bill Pascrell (NJ-09), who co-authored the bill. "The least we can do is seek to better understand the connections between the job firefighters do and risk of cancer, so we can then help mitigate those risks.”
A 2015 study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) determined that U.S. firefighters had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and related deaths than the general population. This study’s findings were determined by a small sample size, reflecting the enormous gap in research when it comes to the incidence of cancer in these men and women. Collins’ Firefighter Cancer Registry Act would ensure greater and more specific data was collected by establishing a comprehensive database.
“After NIOSH’s 2015 study, it was clear something needed to be done to ensure our nation’s firefighters had the best resources and equipment available to mitigate potential future health risks. This bill will help us study this deadly trend and the information we gather will determine what needs to be done to improve safety protocols for these brave men and women," added Collins.
If signed into law, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act would authorize $2 million in federal funds to the CDC from FY2018 to FY2022. Data gathered would include a number of potential risk factors, including but not limited to the status of the firefighter (volunteer, paid-on-call, or career), number of years on the job, the number of incidents attended, and the type of incidence. The collection of this data would allow for improved equipment, enhanced safety protocols and preventative techniques for our firefighters.
Earlier today, Congressman Collins spoke to the importance of the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act on the House Floor
“This registry will go a long way towards improving quality of life for the men and women who devote themselves to saving lives,” said Energy and Commerce Committee Chairman Greg Walden (OR-02). “Coming from a region of the country currently being ravaged by wildfires, I am constantly appreciative of the men and women who go into these dangerous situations of fire and smoke to protect others. This national registry is another way for us to do more to protect them.”
"The IAFC thanks Representatives Collins and Pascrell for their leadership in securing passage of H.R. 931, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017,” said Chief Thomas Jenkins, International Association of Fire Chiefs president and chairman of the board. “This legislation will help researchers to better understand the link between firefighting and cancer and help the nation’s fire service fight this significant health threat."
The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act was advanced out of the Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health on June 29, 2017 and was passed out of full committee on July 27, 2017. The next step in advancing this legislation is passage in the Senate.
For more information on H.R. 931, Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, click here.