18 mayo 2016

Cancer is killing firefighters

Cancer is killing firefighters.

While research over the past decade has shown that responders have a high risk for developing certain cancers, there’s still no database to determine just how widespread it may be.

But that may soon change as members of Congress have introduced a measure to create a National Firefighter Cancer Registry.

Brian McQueen, safety officer and former chief of Whitesboro, NY Vol. Fire Dept., is hoping lawmakers give the nod for the CDC to create the registry.

“On Dec. 24, 2013, I was diagnosed with B Cell Non-Hodgkin’s Lymphoma, which I contracted due to perpetual exposure to carcinogens over the nearly four decades of service as a volunteer firefighter. I am happy to say that today my cancer is in remission. The panel of five oncologists confirmed that my cancer diagnosis is linked to my passion to help others as a volunteer firefighter,” he told a group in Washington, DC on Tuesday.

McQueen did more than sit idly by after his diagnosis. He developed “Cancer in the Fire Service…Why are We Still Killing Firefighters?”

Since launching the program, he’s travelled nearly 8,000 miles to discuss how firefighters can limit their exposures to certain cancer-causing chemicals.

During one of his presentations in a New York firehouse, Rep. Richard Hanna, R-NY, took note of the grim statistics and the lack of a central database. His interest continued when he returned to Washington.

At a press conference Tuesday, Hanna said: “Our firefighters put their lives on the line every day to help our communities during times of emergency. We need a broader understanding of the trends associated with why, how and when our firefighters are contracting this life threatening disease. Establishing a national cancer registry is the first step to building a database where health experts can study the factors associated with cancer diagnoses in the firefighting community. It is my hope that through this registry we can develop more sophisticated protocols and safeguards to prevent our men and women firefighters from being diagnosed with cancer.” 

Dave Finger, chief of legislative and regulatory affairs at the National Vol. Fire Council, said it’s important to capture data from all firefighters including volunteers, women and minorities.

Major studies in the past have been limited to career firefighters.

“The registry will be voluntary and anonymous, “ Finger said, adding that it’s estimated to cost about $2.5M.

 As the bi-partisan bill has wide support, Finger is optimistic it will be passed. He encourages responders to contact their legislators about supporting the measure.

Sen. Bob Menendez, D-NJ, explained: “Firefighters risk their lives and health every time they answer the bell. And it’s not just smoke and flames they have to worry about, but dangerous fumes and toxins, in some cases known carcinogens, released during a fire that pose additional risks for the men and women who so bravely charge-in to ensure our safety. I introduced the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act because by studying, quantifying and understanding the risks of cancer for firefighters, it is my sincere hope that we can develop better ways of protecting them and preventing cancer.”

May 18 2016 13:31
Posted by kenneth_vigus
My husband, Kenneth Vigus, is a retired paid firefighter. We was a firefighter fort over 20 years. We looked forward to his retirement to travel and enjoy our family. Now he is in the hospital for the second round of chemo, because is is afflicted with Acute Myelocytic Leukemia. It has been a horrendous burden to both of us, physically and monetarily. Medical bills are mounting, but we are still in the fight. I can not emphasize enough the importance of establishing this registry. A tool that can be used to support the firefighters and their families who have already given so much.