Tester Introduces Bipartisan Bill to Increase Health and Safety of Montana Firefighters

Legislation Will Create National Cancer Registry for Researchers and Medical Professionals

(U.S. Senate)-Senator Jon Tester is sponsoring legislation to better identify practices that will increase the health and safety of Montana firefighters.

Tester’s bipartisan bill, the National Firefighter Cancer Registry Act¸ will establish a nationwide registry to collect, store, and monitor cancer rates among firefighters. The registry will provide public data for researchers to better identify the causes of specific cancers that are more prevalent among firefighters and lead to the development of more sophisticated safety protocols and safeguards for professional and volunteer firefighters.

“Montana firefighters are the first to respond when crisis hits our communities and they are always there to help folks when they are in need,” Tester said. “This bill provides the tools researchers need to begin identifying ways we can improve health and increase safety for those who put their lives on the front line in our communities.”

“I want to thank Senator Tester for fighting for Montana firefighters and their families and sponsoring legislation that will increase their safety and long-term well-being,” said Joel Fassbinder, President of the Montana State Council of Professional Fire Fighters. “Fires and the fireground have changed dramatically in the last 25 years. We are now seeing a multitude of cancer causing gasses in common structure fires, and this bill will help us identify risks, monitor health trends, and ensure firefighters have access to the best practices so they can live a long and healthy life.”

“Cancer continues to be a serious risk that firefighters face every day, not only in Montana, but across the nation,” said Rich Cowger, President of the Montana State Fire Chiefs’ Association. “This bill will create a cancer registry that will enable us to have clear data on cancer occurrence in the fire service and ultimately identify ways to best keep firefighters safe from cancer. Montana’s Fire Service as well as the nation’s Fire Service appreciate Senator Tester’s responsiveness to this very serious health threat that is increasingly affecting firefighters.”

Firefighters are at an increased risk of contracting and developing cancer, but currently there is little available data researchers can use to identify trends and propose solutions.

Under Tester’s bill, the nationwide registry will be managed by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which would be required to regularly consult with epidemiologists, public health experts, clinicians, and firefighters.

Tester’ bill is supported by the National Volunteer Fire Council, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, and the International Association of Fire Fighters.

The National Firefighter Cancer Registry Act is available HERE.