WASHINGTON – President Trump Monday signed a bill sponsored by Rep. Chris Collins, a Clarence Republican, creating a voluntary registry to track the occurrence of cancer in firefighters.
"We currently have a lack of information about how being exposed to certain fires will impact a firefighter’s health, and this is a common-sense way to collect that data to improve protocols and equipment," Collins said. "I express my deepest gratitude for our nation’s firefighters and first responders, and take pride in knowing that this registry could lead to reforms that will save lives.”
The new law, which both the House and Senate passed in recent weeks, will require the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to develop and maintain a voluntary registry to collect data regarding the the occurrence of cancer in firefighters. The registry is intended to help researchers study how smoke inhalation and other on-the-job dangers might affect the health of firefighters, and to possibly lead to the development of more effective treatment for firefighters who come down with cancer.
Called the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, the bill authorizes $2 million in federal funding for the registry annually between fiscal 2018 and 2022. The data to be collected includes whether the firefighter is a volunteer or a professional, the number of years on the job, the number of incidents each firefighter has responded to, and the type of each incident.
Rep. Richard Hanna, a Republican from Oneida County, first introduced the measure in the House in 2016, and Collins sponsored it and led the push for the measure after Hanna left Congress at the end of that year.
New York's two Democratic U.S. senators, Charles E. Schumer and Sen. Kirsten E. GIllibrand, were original co-sponsors of the Senate version of the bill when it was introduced by Sen. Robert Menendez, D-N.J., in 2016. And Schumer, now the Senate minority leader, pushed for its passage in the current Congress.
Schumer said the bill is necessary because firefighters are exposed to a number of toxins, and because research indicates they are at increased risk of testicular, stomach, multiple myeloma and brain cancers.
“Every day firefighters risk everything to protect communities and families across New York," said Schumer, a New York Democrat. "We owe it to these fearless men and women to ensure that if they get sick, they will be cared for in the same way that they care for us.”