WESTCHESTER COUNTY, N.Y. - While Westchester County firefighters risk their lives everyday serving the people of their communities, U.S. Sen. Chuck Schumer is proposing legislation that will protect them from long-term illnesses that linger long after the flames are extinguished.
On Tuesday, Schumer - flanked by dozens of local firefighters from multiple departments throughout Westchester - announced that he planned to introduce legislation that would establish a cancer registry for firefighters, providing researchers with additional data regarding the effects of environmental contaminants and toxins inhaled while fighting fires.
New Rochelle Mayor Noam Bramson, who introduced Schumer, said that the proposed registry would “rigorously quantify and examine these links to better understand causes and more effectively develop prevention measures and treatments.”
According to Schumer, research has indicated that there is a strong connection between firefighting and an increased risk for several major cancers, including stomach, multiple myeloma and brain cancers, but a longterm registry has never been put in place to develop any patters or connections between the two.
“A national registry would give researchers access to the kind of data they need to complete an in-depth study into the incidence of cancer among firefighters and what precautions firefighters can take to lower the risks,” New Rochelle Fire Chief Lou DiMeglio said. “This is not just a bill for us. Our lives, friends’ lives and our families’ lives can benefit from this.”
To benefit firefighters across the country, Schumer is co-sponsoring the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act alongside Sen. Bob Melendez in New Jersey. The legislation has been introduced to the House of Representatives and the registry would be managed by the CDC to “improve collection capabilities and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of cancer incidence among all firefighters.”
“Our brave firefighters in Westchester and across New York are on the frontline, risking their lives to protect our communities,” Schumer said. “Now, with the ubiquitous presence of complex chemicals in our furniture, clothes and goods, they are too often exposed to a caustic brew of toxins when fighting fires.
“This is why it is so important for Congress to pass this critical legislation to establish a national voluntary firefighter cancer registry, so people can better track, treat, and one day prevent the potential connections between firefighting and cancer.”