Legislation introduced to establish a national firefighter cancer registry

A bipartisan group of 76 Congressional Representatives have signed on as sponsors for legislation that would establish a national cancer registry for firefighters diagnosed with this deadly disease. The bill is titled Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2017. (UPDATE March 25, 2019. A version of the legislation was signed into law. The Centers for Disease Control has more information. We expect to write more about this later, in articles tagged “cancer registry“.)

Most firefighters know others in their profession who have suffered from and in some cases died of various forms of cancer.

The British Columbia government recognizes at least nine “presumptive cancers” among firefighters, including leukemia, testicular cancer, lung cancer, brain cancer, bladder cancer, ureter cancer, colorectal cancer, and non-Hodgkins’s lymphoma.

According to Congressmen Bill Pascrell of New Jersey and Chris Collins of New York:

…The creation of this registry would enable researchers to study the relationship between firefighters’ exposure to dangerous fumes and harmful toxins and the increased risk for several major cancers. In the future, this information could also allow for better protective equipment and prevention techniques to be developed.

“Public servants like our firefighters put their lives on the line every day for us,” said Congressman Chris Collins. “Unfortunately, firefighters see a higher rate of cancer than the rest of the public. This legislation will provide the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) the tools they need to improve their data collection capabilities on volunteer, paid-on-call, and career firefighters. We hope that by creating a voluntary ‘Firefighter Registry’ that includes the many variables that occur over a firefighter’s career, the CDC will be able to better study this deadly trend. In the future, this information can be used to provide better safeguards and protocols for these brave men and women.”

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Author: Bill Gabbert

After working full time in wildland fire for 33 years, he continues to learn, and strives to be a Student of Fire.

3 thoughts on “Legislation introduced to establish a national firefighter cancer registry”

  1. I myself have been in the wildland fire business for 20 yrs and I was just diagnosed with cancer November 3rd 2016, so this is an interesting read. Please keep me informed on your research. Thanks

  2. Bill, thanks for publishing this report on firefighting related cancers. It is saddening to see the amount of wildland firefighters that started their careers 50 years ago that are now battling various cancers at a higher rate than the general age-related population. Additionally, there are other causes of diseases and syndromes that wildland firefighters have been disproportionately subjected to. One such example is the use of chemicals found in Agent Orange related herbicides and pine beetle killing pesticides that the Forest Service used during the late 1950’s, 1960’s and early 1970’s that caused diabetes, nerve problems and other skin cancers. I plan this Spring to provide some of my research that I’ve accumulated over the last few years.

    1. My husband was a woodland firefighter for both the Prescott Hotshots and Texas Canyon Hotshots . 3 years ago he was diagnosed with Brain Cancer. Let us know what becomes of your research,

      Gina Nelson


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