National Firefighter Registry (NFR) for Cancer Quarterly Newsletter (Summer 2023)

Summer 2023

Welcome from the National Firefighter Registry for Cancer Team Lead

closeup of a man in a suit (Kenny Fent, PhD, CIH)

It’s hard to top our last newsletter from April when we announced the official launch of the National Firefighter Registry, but we have a lot of exciting news to share!

First, the NFR team has been making its rounds across the United States to make sure firefighters, fire service leaders, and other invested partners know that the NFR for Cancer is open, why its so critically important, and how to enroll. Second, the team has been carefully monitoring our communications efforts and enrollment statistics to ensure the NFR is successful and to identify areas for improvement. At the end of August, over 7,600 participants had signed up for the NFR! Third, you have likely noticed a slight change in our program name. It is now called the National Firefighter Registry (NFR) for Cancer. We wanted to further emphasize that our mission is focused on cancer—specifically understanding and reducing cancer.

In the coming months, we will be doing even more to get the word out about the NFR. We want to make sure that firefighters of all different backgrounds and experiences know about their opportunity to enroll, especially firefighters who have historically been under-represented in research, like women and non-white firefighters. We are also actively involved in strategically planning for the next few years. We met with the NFR Subcommittee in June to get their input on some of our future plans, including communications efforts, targeted enrollment procedures, and future questionnaire topics.
We want the NFR to provide as much value as possible for the fire service, scientific, and public health communities, while filling existing knowledge gaps about firefighters and their cancer risk. Look for a lot of exciting updates and other initiatives over the next year!

Kind regards,
a signature

Kenny Fent, PhD, CIH
CDR, U.S. Public Health Service
Research Industrial Hygienist/Team Lead
National Firefighter Registry Program
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health

AIHA Synergist Article

NIOSH published an article in the Synergist about the NFR. The American Industrial Hygiene Association’s Synergist is a magazine that publishes in-depth news and information about the occupational and environmental health and safety fields and the industrial hygiene profession.

The article “Introducing the National Firefighter Registry for Cancer” provides background information on our current understanding of cancer in the fire service, identifies knowledge gaps, and explains how the NFR works. The target audience for this article includes industrial hygienists and occupational health professionals, who play an important role in advancing firefighter safety and health research.

IARC Review

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) published their full review of the literature that led to their classification of firefighting as a Group 1 Known Carcinogen. Dr. Fent was a member of the IARC committee that contributed to this review.

A webinar hosted by the NORA Chronic Disease Council will be held on September 27, 2023, at 11 AM EST. The webinar will feature several key members of the IARC Working Group, including Kenny Fent and other NIOSH researchers, discussing how they evaluated firefighter exposures, associated cancers, and what intervention and prevention strategies are available. Spanish and English captioning will be available. Archived copies of the webinar in Spanish and English will be posted to CDC YouTube in late 2023.

Conferences and Events
  • On April 13, Kenny Fent and Alex Mayer attended and presented at the Wave Conference in Austin, Texas, which is a conference focused on data in the emergency services.
  • On April 23-April 28, Kenny Fent and Alex Mayer attended the Fire Department Instructors Conference (FDIC) in Indianapolis, Indiana. Kenny Fent announced the launch of the NFR during the opening session on April 27. Key representatives from the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), National Fallen Firefighters Foundation, Firefighter Cancer Support Network, and FDIC joined NIOSH in making this announcement. The NFR also had an exhibit booth where more information about the NFR was handed out to several thousand attendees and where firefighters could receive help in enrolling.
    Announcement at FDIC. From left to right: Andy Pantelis (IAFF), Victor Stagnaro (NFFF), Kenny Fent (NIOSH), David Rhodes (FDIC), and Joe Schumacher (FCSN).

    Announcement at FDIC. From left to right: Andy Pantelis (IAFF), Victor Stagnaro (NFFF), Kenny Fent (NIOSH), David Rhodes (FDIC), and Joe Schumacher (FCSN).

  • On May 10, Kenny Fent and Andrea Wilkinson participated in the NFR partner promotion call with numerous fire service leaders to provide information on the various resources available for promoting the NFR.
  • On May 22-23, June 12 and 14, Kenny Fent, Lauralynn McKernan, the Director of the NIOSH Division of Field Studies and Engineering, and Tina Lawson, the Chief of the Field Research Branch, updated 21 U.S. Representatives and Senators staffers from 14 states about the NFR.
    Kenny Fent and Lauralynn McKernan, Director of the Division of Field Studies and Engineering, outside the Hart Senate Building in Washington, DC after several meetings with Congressional staffers.

    Kenny Fent and Lauralynn McKernan, Director of the Division of Field Studies and Engineering, outside the Hart Senate Building in Washington, DC after several meetings with Congressional staffers.

  • On May 24, Kenny Fent gave an update about the NFR to the Congressional Fire Services Institute National Advisory Committee, which is composed of more than 35 trade groups, issue organizations, and professional associations in the fire and emergency services.
  • On June 8, Kenny Fent presented at the Metropolitan Fire Chiefs Association Annual Meeting in Columbus, Ohio. Leaders from many of the largest fire departments in the country were present.
  • On June 13, Kenny Fent, Miriam Siegel, and Alex Mayer updated the NFR Subcommittee (a subcommittee of the NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors) in Washington, DC. The NFR Subcommittee provided feedback on the NFR communications plan, targeted enrollment process, and future questionnaire topics.
  • On July 27, Kenny Fent gave an overview about the NFR to fire service leaders from New York who were invited by Senator Gillibrand to the First Responders Summit in Washington, DC.
  • From August 15-18, Alex Mayer, and Rob Saunders attended the Fire-Rescue International Conference in Kansas City, Missouri. Alex presented on the NFR, along with representatives from the International Association of Fire Chiefs . The NFR also had an exhibit booth where more information about the NFR was handed out to hundreds of attendees.
  • From August 21-25, Kenny Fent, Miriam Siegel, and Alex Mayer attended the IAFF’s Redmond Health and Safety Symposium/Barbera EMS Conference. Kenny Fent presented on the NFR, Alex Mayer presented on firefighting exposure reduction practices, and all team members promoted enrollment at an exhibit booth.
Enrollment Progress
  • The NFR officially launched on April 13th.
  • Enrollments in the NFR quickly rose after the launch. By the end of April over 1,000 firefighters had enrolled.
  • Since that time, an average of approximately 500 people per week have been accessing the web portal (https://nfr.cdc.gov)
  • At the end of August over 7,600 firefighters have signed up for the NFR.
  • This is a great start! Our goal is to enroll 200,000 firefighters over the next several years.
Revised Communication Materials
  • The Fire Chief’s Toolkit assists fire service leaders in helping their firefighters join the NFR. The toolkit provides 4 simple steps for encouraging and assisting firefighters with enrollment.
  • The Enrollment Tip Sheet was updated with specific tips for wildland firefighters. Thank you to the U.S. Department of Interior and U.S. Forest Service for their help. This tip sheet can be accessed directly from the NFR web portal.
What’s Next for the NFR?
  • Begin reaching out to specific fire departments as part of our targeted enrollment and other efforts to assist firefighters with the enrollment process.
  • Continue to make updates to the NFR web portal to ease the enrollment process.
National Firefighter Registry Logo

The NFR is live!

Enroll Today!

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