WASHINGTON, D.C. — Senator Sherrod Brown’s bill, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, will create a tool to collect data on cancer incidence among firefighters — and hopefully work toward developing better prevention and safety protocols.
President Donald Trump signed Brown’s bill into law earlier this month.
The bill will require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create and maintain a voluntary registry to collect the data. The data will then be used with existing state data to better assess and prevent cancer among firefighters.
“When I think about firefighters and police officers, I think of this: The rest of us run from danger, and firefighters rush in. Of course they’re putting their lives on the line,” Brown said on a conference call. “We think of that, but we don’t often think of the other increased risk to firefighters. Studies confirm that firefighters face an increased risk of cancer because of exposure on the job.”
Brown said the registry will be public and accessible for research.
“We need to learn why firefighters are at such high risk,” he said.
Mike Taylor, President of Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters, joined Brown on the call.
“This is a one of a kind registry to record firefighters with cancer so we can better understand and prevent the impact of this disease in firefighters,” Taylor said. “It will provide scientists with information they need to research to help understand the link between firefighters and cancer.”
Taylor cited cancer as the leading cause of death in firefighters.
“We operate in toxic [environments] … it impacts all of our filtering organs. Our pores open up due to the heat, we absorb through our skin and into our bloodstream,” he said. “Our rates of cancer incidence are exceptionally higher than the general public. You don’t have to be an expert to know this is a serious problem.”
In addition to establishing the volunteer registry, Brown’s bill requires the CDC to develop a strategy to maximize participation, develop guidance for state agencies, and encourage inclusion among participants and to seek feedback from nonfederal experts.