The IAFF testified before the Health Subcommittee in the U.S. House of Representatives on the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, H.R. 931, marking the first substantive step forward for the bill. The bipartisan legislation, introduced by Representatives Chris Collins (R-NY) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ), directs the Centers for Disease Control to establish the first national cancer registry specifically for fire fighters.

The registry will collect detailed data about fire fighters with cancer on a national scale, providing scientists with the specialized information they need for research activities. Such research will help strengthen our understanding of the link between fire fighting and cancer and could potentially lead to better prevention and safety protocols. More than 150 members of Congress have cosponsored H.R. 931 to date. 

Assistant to the General President Kevin B. O’Connor, a former member of Baltimore County, MD Local 1311 and a cancer survivor, testified on behalf of the IAFF. Delivering his remarks, O’Connor informed the Subcommittee that nearly 60 percent of the names added to IAFF Fallen Fire Fighter Memorial since 2002 are those of fire fighters who have died from occupational cancers. “I am sad to say that cancer is now considered the leading cause of line-of-duty death among fire fighters.” 

"I thank Subcommittee Chair Michael Burgess (R-TX) and Ranking Member Gene Green (D-TX) for holding this hearing on the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act. Since the bill’s initial introduction through to today’s hearing, we have enjoyed broad bipartisan support for the registry, and expect that to continue,” says General President Harold Schaitberger. “I want to thank Representatives Chris Collins (R-NY) and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ) for the work they have put into this important legislation, and I look forward to working with them to ensure its passage in the 115th Congress.”

Members of Congress expressed their clear support for the bill. Among those in attendance were the bill’s sponsors, Representative Collins, as well as Representative Greg Walden (R-OR), chair of the full House Committee on Energy and Commerce. Commenting on the bill, Walden expressed concern about the rise of cancers among fire fighters. He went on commit to scheduling a vote on the bill stating, “This is really important legislation, and while we have learned a lot over the years, we don’t know all that we need to know.”

A vote on the bill before the full Committee may come as soon as next week.