Juneau, Alaska (KINY) Alaska U.S. Senator Lisa Murkowski touted a bill that could cut cancer rates.
The Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee advanced the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act, legislation cosponsored by Murkowski which creates a national cancer registry for firefighters diagnosed with the deadly disease in order to collect data and improve research activities on incidents of cancer among firefighters.
“The stark reality we have seen firsthand in Alaska is that firefighters are diagnosed with cancers directly linked to exposure on the job. I am reminded of Anchorage firefighter Andy Mullen, who in 1997, responded to a routine call—a brush fire. Thirteen years later, Andy was diagnosed with cancer caused by exposure to toxins from electrical wires from that brush fire, and eventually lost his life,” Murkowski said. “Firefighters are regularly exposed to harmful toxins and it is increasing their risk for several major cancers. This legislation takes an important step towards addressing cancer rates among firefighters—brave men and women who put everything on the line for our safety. This is a data-driven approach to determining the best possible response to the increased risk of cancer among our nation’s heroes.”
Capital City Fire Rescue Chief Rich Etheridge supported the bill. “It has been known for years that firefighters have an increased rate of several different cancers. Unfortunately there has been no single clearing house for data to find the common threads to link these cases together at a national level. Having this national clearing house will be a huge component in finding ways to reduce risk and prevent cancer in our emergency responders. “Creating a national clearing house for cancer data for firefighters could be one of the single largest steps we can take to reduce the risk of cancer in our emergency responders.”