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Help reduce firefighter cancer: Join the National Firefighter Registry

Posted: Jan. 17, 2023

Later this winter, you, as an active, former or retired member of the fire service — paid or volunteer — will have the opportunity to do something that can help your fellow firefighters.

By adding your information to the National Firefighter Registry (NFR), you can help researchers better understand how your work affects the risk of getting cancer and how to lower this risk. According to National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) research, cancer is a leading cause of death among firefighters, and research suggests firefighters are at higher risk for certain types of cancers when compared to the general population.

Some of the data requested for an NFR profile includes name, date of birth, and information about work, exposures, health and lifestyle. When cancer diagnoses are found in state cancer registries, NIOSH researchers will match NFR profiles and work histories to the state registries. They will then seek to obtain work history records from fire departments to better understand the firefighters' exposures and how they may be related to cancer over time.

Any cancer diagnosis information that is linked to an NFR participant is protected by the same safeguards as the other NFR data, including by an Assurance of Confidentiality.

The more firefighters who sign up for the registry through its secure web portal, the more information researchers will have to learn about cancer in the fire service and how to protect firefighters from developing cancer in the line of duty. The registry will also help pave the way for new health and safety measures to keep firefighters safe and improve understanding of cancer risk among minority, female, volunteer and wildland firefighters.

The NFR is a critically important initiative in the fight against firefighter cancer, so at the National Fire Academy (NFA), we'll be offering information about the registry to all who attend our on-campus courses, and we'll encourage students to register.

Eriks Gabliks, superintendent, NFA
Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell and NFA superintendent Eriks Gabliks test registering for the NFR.

Jan. 17, 2023: U.S. Fire Administrator Dr. Lori Moore-Merrell and NFA Superintendent Gabliks test registration for the upcoming NFR at the Fire Department Safety Officers Association Health and Safety Conference.

You can find out more about the NFR on the NIOSH NFR webpage, including:

  • How the NFR works.
  • Privacy and data security.
  • Materials to share information about the NFR with your fire service network.
  • How to sign up for registry updates, including when registration opens.

About the NFR

The NFR was established in 2018 by NIOSH when Congress passed the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act. It is the largest effort ever undertaken to understand and reduce the risk of cancer among U.S. firefighters.

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