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Understanding the National Firefighter Registry
Firefighter Registry

On July 9, 2018, legislation was signed requiring the Center for Disease Control to set up a special cancer registry for firefighters. The National Firefighter Registry was born out of an increase in workplace exposure and cancer diagnoses among firefighters. Prior to the signing of this legislation, there were individual studies done, but no coordinated effort that allowed for observation of trends around workplace cancer risks for firefighters. With this new firefighter registry, a more complete picture can be captured.

The assigned federal agency in charge of collecting this data is the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health. NIOSH are the experts in conducting occupational cancer studies to evaluate cancer incidence. The goals of this type of registry are to learn the types of cancer commonly diagnosed within this population, detect causes and assist in identifying new protocols that can be put into place to protect firefighters. The data will also be linked with state cancer registries to obtain further diagnosis information. According to the CDC, once this process develops fully, the de-identified firefighter registry data will be available to the public in order to:

  • Promote and Enforce Safety
  • Lead to Further Research
  • Better Firefighter Mechanisms
  • Inform Funding for Equipment
  • Identify Risks

Since my son is a firefighter and I am not only a mother but a certified tumor registrar, the creation of this firefighter registry is more than welcome in my eyes. I am hopeful it will help us find answers to bring about necessary change to keep our first responders healthy as they focus on their community’s safety.  And though the data has not been put to use quite yet, my son assures me there are common sense protocols in place to prevent long-term exposure to carcinogens. These include using proper gear, wiping off excess soot, changing clothes and washing immediately after exposure to fire, keeping bunker gear out of living quarters, and so on.

I'm interested to know if other states are starting to take part in this registry process? Leave a comment below to keep the conversation going!

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