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Sen. Menendez, Rep. Pascrell applaud launch of federal firefighter cancer registry

Registry was directed in 2018 and is the largest national effort to study and monitor cancer amongst the American fire service

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Bob Menendez (D-N.J.) and Congressman Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-N.J.-09) celebrated the launch Monday of the CDC’s National Firefighter Registry for Cancer an online enrollment system for firefighters across the nation to help support and understand the link between cancer and the fire service.

The CDC was directed to create the registry by legislation sponsored by Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pascrell in 2018 that was signed into law in the 115th Congress.

“Our nation’s firefighters risk not only their lives, but their health and well-being every time they answer the bell, through exposures to toxins and chemicals, and unknown carcinogens,” Menendez said. “The link between the fire service and cancer impacts far too many firefighters and we must do all we can to help these brave men and women who selflessly serve our communities. I am proud to see this database that I championed launch as we know that the best way to prevent cancer in our firefighters is by studying this link and by developing better ways to protect those who protect us.  I encourage all firefighters to register.”

“The link between firefighters’ dangerous daily exposure to toxins and higher incidence of cancer is unmistakable and devastating.” Pascrell said. “Last week when we visited a North Jersey firehouse, one young man spoke poignantly about the pain of his father’s passing from cancer after years fighting fires. We have worked for years to create this cancer registry so that we can better track, understand, and ultimately prevent and treat cancer among our fire heroes. The launching of the Firefighter Cancer Database will help save the lives of the men and women who save lives every day.”

Commenced by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the registry is the largest effort undertaken by the federal government to monitor and support the study of cancer among members of America’s fire services.

“I encourage all firefighters across America to join the NFR for Cancer – the more firefighters who join the NFR, the more researchers can learn about cancer arising from firefighting and how to prevent it. Firefighters are vital to the safety of our communities and their enrollment in the NFR for cancer can help protect them and the next generation of firefighters from cancer,” said John Howard, M.D., Director of the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health.

Cancer among firefighters is an endemic problem. In 2015, NIOSH published a multi-year study which found that firefighters are 9% more likely to develop cancer and 14% more likely to die from cancer relative to the general population. Last year, cancer was the leading cause of death among firefighters, accounting for 74% of line of duty deaths according to the International Association of Fire Fighters.

On July 9, 2018, legislation sponsored by Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pascrell creating a firefighter cancer registry for the first time was signed into law. Their bill directed the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to create a national cancer registry for firefighters to monitor and study the relationship between career-long exposure to dangerous fumes and toxins and the incidence of cancer in firefighters so to develop better protective gear and prevention techniques. Rep. Pascrell and Sen. Menendez first unveiled the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act in May 2016 during a news conference at Clifton, New Jersey Fire Station 5, where they were joined by dozens of firefighters, including retired Haddon Heights Fire Chief Gene Dannenfelster, who later lost his battle with cancer.

Last week, Sen. Menendez and Rep. Pascrell joined together with Rep. Rob Menendez (D-NJ-08) at North Hudson Regional Fire and Rescue to discuss the Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act, which would provide federal benefits for occupational cancer under the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program to firefighters, first responders, and their families.

In February, Sens. Menendez and Booker (both D-N.J.) announced a combined total of $2,127,844.28 from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) through its competitive SAFER program to assist three New Jersey fire departments with the hiring, retention and recruitment of firefighters.

The AFG program was created in 2000 by the Firefighter Investment and Response Enhancement (FIRE) Act led by Rep. Pascrell and the SAFER program was established in 2005 by the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Resources (SAFER) Act co-led by Rep. Pascrell.

Jay Edwards

Born and raised in Northwest NJ, Jay has a degree in Communications and has had a life-long interest in local radio and various styles of music. Jay has held numerous jobs over the years such as stunt car driver, bartender, voice-over artist, traffic reporter (award winning), NY Yankee maintenance crewmember and peanut farm worker. His hobbies include mountain climbing, snowmobiling, cooking, performing stand-up comedy and he is an avid squirrel watcher. Jay has been a guest on America’s Morning Headquarters,program on The Weather Channel, and was interviewed by Sam Champion.

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