Pascrell Wins Funding for Firefighter Cancer Registry

Pascrell Wins Funding for Firefighter Cancer Registry

WASHINGTON, DC – U.S. Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ-09) celebrated the passage in the House of Representatives of an amendment which will allocate $900,000 to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) to bring funding for the Firefighter Cancer Registry to its fully authorized level of $2.5 million.

“For years we sought the creation of a cancer registry so that firefighters who put their lives in danger are protected from some of the deadliest effects of their dangerous work,” said Rep. Pascrell, the co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “The passage of our bipartisan legislation last year was a gratifying victory for America’s firefighters, but it won’t mean anything if the registry isn’t fully funded. This amendment will ensure that it is, and with it, the Firefighter Cancer Registry can begin collecting the data we need to save lives. I’ll work closely with my Senate partners to make sure full funding is signed into law.”

This week, Rep. Pascrell led 76 of his colleagues in a bipartisan letter to Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the CDC, reiterating the importance of the Firefighter Cancer Registry.

Rep. Pascrell long championed the creation of a cancer registry for America’s fire services personnel. Legislation to this effect sponsored by Pascrell in the House and Sen. Robert Menendez (D-NJ) was passed by in the 115th Congress and signed into law on July 9, 2018.  Pascrell and Menendez first introduced the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act in May 2016 during a news conference at Clifton, N.J. Fire Station 5, where they were joined by dozens of firefighters, including retired Haddon Heights Fire Chief Gene Dannenfelster, who since lost his battle with cancer.

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.

Specifically, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act authorized federal funding to the CDC from FY2018 to FY2022. Additionally, the legislation will:

  • Develop a firefighter registry of available cancer incidence data collected by existing State Cancer Registries and a strategy to maximize participation;
  • Create a registry that will contain relevant history, such as other occupational information, years of service, number of fire incidents responded to, and additional risk factors;
  • Make de-identified data available to public health researchers to provide them with robust and comprehensive datasets to expand groundbreaking research; and
  • Improve our understanding of cancer incidences by requiring administrators to consult regularly with public health experts, clinicians, and firefighters.

Several major fire organizations announced support for this amendment, including the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the Fire Apparatus Manufacturers’ Association, the Fire and Emergency Manufacturers and Services Association, the International Association of Arson Investigators, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, the International Fire Service Training Association, the International Society of Fire Service Instructors, National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, National Fire Protection Association, and National Volunteer Fire Council. The amendment is also supported by the American Federation of Government Employees.

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