CLEVELAND, OH — Today, U.S. Sen. Sherrod Brown (D-OH) met with Northeast Ohio firefighters at the Western Reserve Fire Museum and Education Center in Cleveland to discuss his bipartisan bill to establish a voluntary cancer registry of firefighters. President Trump signed Brown’s bill into law in July. Earlier this month, by a vote of 85-0, the Senate voted to appropriate $1 million in funds for Brown’s bill. The House now must approve the funding before it heads to the President’s desk for signature.
The Firefighter Cancer Registry Act requires the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create and maintain a voluntary registry to collect data on cancer incidence among firefighters. The data collected by the registry will be used with existing state data to better assess and prevent cancer among firefighters. The Senate passed Brown’s bill by unanimous consent in May.
“While the rest of us run from danger, firefighters run toward it,” said Brown. “And when they rush into the flames they’re not just putting their lives on the line – even firefighters who come home safely face long-term health risks. We know this is just a first step and there’s a lot more work to do to protect our first responders. But this bill will help us make progress.”
Brown was joined at the roundtable discussion by firefighters from various northeast Ohio fire departments.
“Occupational cancer has devastated too many Ohio firefighters and their families. We need to better understand the link between firefighting and cancer, and do more to address it. Sen. Brown’s bill is another significant step, and discussions like these help better inform the public of the risks firefighters take every day,” said Timothy Kling, a retired Akron Firefighter and cancer survivor.
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. The CDC would also be required to ensure the data collected is made public and accessible for research.
The legislation has support from several major fire organizations, including the National Volunteer Fire Council, the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), the Congressional Fire Services Institute, the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, and the International Fire Services Training Association.