Tester Backs Funding Boost for Bipartisan Firefighter Cancer Registry

Bill would reauthorize 2018 legislation to protect firefighters from deadly disease

In his ongoing effort to protect Montana firefighters from deadly diseases, U.S. Senator Jon Tester cosponsored the bipartisan Firefighter Cancer Registry Reauthorization Act, to renew critical funding for the registry, which was enacted in 2018 and officially went online earlier this year.

“Every time Montana’s brave firefighters suit up, they are putting their own lives at risk to keep our communities safe,” said Tester. “We know that firefighters work in dangerous conditions, and it’s our job to make sure they have access to the care and resources they need if they are exposed to carcinogens or injured on the job. Reauthorizing the Firefighter Cancer Registry will support that effort by helping us better understand and address cancer risk for firefighters.”

Tester championed passage of the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act in 2018. The registry, which went online earlier this year, is the largest effort undertaken to understand the risk of cancer among U.S. firefighters. Firefighters are exposed to a range of harmful toxins, and research has indicated there is a strong connection between firefighting and an increased risk for several major cancers. The registry will improve collection tools and allow doctors and scientists to monitor and study the relationship between exposure to dangerous fumes and toxins and the incidence of cancer in firefighters. This data will help determine if there is a link, so experts can develop better protective gear and prevention techniques.

Tester’s bill to reauthorize funding for the registry is supported by the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, the Congressional Fire Services Institute, First Responder Center of Excellence, the International Association of Firefighters, the National Volunteer Fire Council, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

“The National Fallen Firefighters Foundation strongly supports the reauthorization of the National Firefighter Cancer Registry (NFR). The NFR is an important resource to better understand the link between firefighting and cancer, potentially leading to better prevention and safety protocols,” said Chief Ron Siarnicki, the Executive Director of the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF). “We are grateful to Senators Menendez, Fischer, Rubio, Klobuchar, Tester, Brown, and Murkowski for introducing this important legislation.”  

“Firefighters face an increased risk of cancer due to the hazardous nature of their jobs, which exposes them to toxic chemicals. CFSI thanks Senators Menendez, Murkowski, Fischer, Klobuchar, Rubio, Tester, and Brown for introducing this bill to reauthorize the National Firefighter Registry (NFR), which is compiling vital scientific data to help researchers understand the risk of cancer to firefighters and develop prevention and treatment measures,” said Bill Webb. Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute. “We look forward to Congress reauthorizing the NFR as soon as possible.”

“The First Responder Center for Excellence for Reducing Occupational Illness, Injuries and Deaths (FRCE) thanks Senators Menendez, Fischer, Rubio, Klobuchar, Brown, Tester, and Murkowski for introducing legislation to reauthorize the National Firefighter Cancer Registry (NFR),” said Victor Stagnaro, the CEO of the First Responder Center for Excellence (FRCE). “Numerous studies show that firefighters’ exposure during emergency responses may increase their risk of cancer and other chronic diseases.  The NFR is a critical tool in understanding the link between firefighting and cancer, and preventing cancer in the future.”

“Cancer is the greatest threat fire fighters, and we must do everything we can to end the scourge of this horrible disease. The National Firefighter Cancer Registry plays an important role in our fight against cancer by helping us gather the data needed to identify trends, risk factors, and other details that guide our cancer prevention, detection, and treatment efforts. The IAFF was proud to work with Representative Pascrell and Senator Menendez in establishing the Registry several years ago, and we applaud them for their continued work to strengthen and expand this Registry. The IAFF urges Congress to reauthorize the National Firefighter Cancer Registry and ensure we have the data needed to eliminate cancer from the fire service,” said Edward A. Kelly, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters.

“Too many firefighters are contracting and dying from cancer caused by duty-related exposures. Reauthorizing this important registry will improve our understanding why firefighter cancer is occurring at such a high rate and make it easier to prevent, detect, and treat. I thank Senators Menendez, Murkowski, Klobuchar, Fischer, Tester, Brown, and Rubio for their leadership on this important legislation,” said National Volunteer Fire Council Chair Steve Hirsch

“I thank Senators Menendez, Fischer, Rubio, Klobuchar, Tester, Brown, and Murkowski for introducing this important legislation and appreciate the bipartisan effort to assist our firefighters. We know that cancer is more prevalent in firefighters than in the general population. However, we need more data on the causes of cancer in the fire and emergency service and how to mitigate it. We are glad to see the National Firefighter Registry being established so that we may not only help today’s firefighters but just as important our future firefighting force. This legislation will ensure long-term funding for this important program. We urge Congress to pass this legislation,” said Fire Chief Donna Black, EFO, CFO, the President and Board Chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs.

Full text of the legislation is available HERE.