To see impact of doubling funds for federal firefighter cancer registry, look to New Haven
The Firefighter Cancer Registry will receive $5.5 million in funding to track firefighters’ cancer rates and improve workplace safety.
New Haven Firefighters Union President Pat Cannon thanked Sen. Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) and New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker for their dedication to supporting the fire department — but stressed there is more work to be done.
“There's at least 10 to 12 firefighters in the last 10 years that have died from cancer that were New Haven firefighters, whether they were active or recently retired,” Cannon said. “And I want us to keep them in our prayers, and I want to keep fighting for them.”
Cannon referenced New Haven firefighter Silverio Rivera, who is currently battling cancer, as one of the firefighters that has suffered from long-term exposure.
“This is the face of what this gentleman [Blumenthal] is fighting for,” Cannon said. “This senator is fighting for this firefighter right here who's suffering from cancer right now as we speak.”
Elicker said firefighters injured in the line of duty often rightfully receive support — which should be extended to firefighters who suffer ailments long term.
“It is challenging for us to tie directly a firefighter's cancer to whether it was work related or not,” Elicker said. “And so this funding, this research, helps us determine that so that we can follow through on our commitment to firefighters that if they are impacted in the line of work, we can ensure that they have the resources and healthcare support that they need.”
Blumenthal called on Congress to reauthorize the registry, which is set to expire at the end of this year.
“We need to increase the money, we have increased it nearly doubling it, from $3 million now to $5.5 million, that's major,” Blumenthal said. “We need to do even more. We need to reauthorize this cancer registry. The firefighter cancer registry can help us save lives.”
The fund allows the Center for Disease Control to collect data and study the occupational risks faced by firefighters.