National Firefighter Registry (NFR) for Cancer Quarterly Newsletter (Winter 2024)

Winter 2024

Welcome from the National Firefighter Registry for Cancer Team Lead

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

Greetings! The NFR for Cancer continues to make substantial progress. As of December 2023, we have over 9,000 firefighters who have enrolled.

We continue to present at conferences and meetings to raise awareness about cancer in the fire service, ways that firefighters can reduce their exposures to carcinogens, and why the NFR is so important.

In October, I had the privilege of providing an update at the U.S. Fire Administrator’s Summit in Emmitsburg, Maryland. Just before my presentation, President Biden delivered remarks and specifically noted our ongoing efforts in leading the NFR and tracking cancer diagnoses in firefighters over time.

January is Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month (FFCAM), a joint initiative between the International Association of Fire Fighters and the Firefighter Cancer Support Network. Many other fire service organizations support this initiative, which aims to raise awareness and recognize the impact of occupational cancer in the fire service.

Joining the NFR is one thing firefighters can do during FFCAM to help improve our understanding of the link between firefighting and cancer. The NFR has developed a FFCAM toolkit that our partners can use to encourage participation in the NFR. See below for more details about this toolkit, our other work, and future plans.

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

Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month Toolkit

The FFCAM toolkit provides NFR communication products specifically made for FFCAM, including social media posts and images, web banners, email/newsletter template, and a QR code. FFCAM is a great time to encourage participation in the NFR.

NFR for Cancer Subcommittee Welcomes New Members

The NFR Subcommittee is pleased to welcome our newest members:

  • Judith Graber (Co-Chair), Associate Professor, Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
  • Gavin Horn (Co-Chair), Research Engineer, Underwriters Laboratories’ Fire Safety Research Institute
  • Bozena Morawski, Epidemiologist, Idaho Hospital Association, Cancer Data Registry of Idaho
  • Brook Pittinger, Assistant Deputy Commissioner for Administration, Virginia Department of Health
  • Miyoko Sasakura, Industrial Hygienist, Department of Labor and Industries, Washington State
  • Matthew Tobia, Fire Chief, Harrisonburg (Virginia) Fire Department

The NFR team would also like to express our sincere appreciation and thanks to the following members whose terms have recently concluded: Pat Morrison (Co-Chair), Grace LeMasters (Co-Chair), Shawn Brimhall, Sara Jahnke, Betsy Kohler, and Barb Materna. Your service to NIOSH and the NFR has been invaluable.

The subcommittee is a rotating group of diverse subject matter experts charged with providing professional input to the NIOSH Board of Scientific Counselors. The Board assists in advising the Director about NIOSH’s efforts to establish and operate the NFR.

Conferences and Events
Two people at a conference booth holding up a poster promoting the NFR that says stand together in bold red letters.

Frank Leeb (left) and Andrea Wilkinson (right) at Blue Card Leadership Conference

a group of 5 people posing on a path in front of building. Two of the people are wearing mascot costumes.

From left to right: Drs. Emily Haas , Susan Moore , and Kenny Fent all of NIOSH at the U.S. Fire Administrator’s Summit in Emmitsburg, Maryland.

Various NFR representatives and partners attended meetings, shared information about the NFR, and encouraged firefighters’ participation.

Rob Saunders and Kenny Fent attended Brothers Helping Brothers Health and Wellness Conference in Beavercreek, Ohio. Kenny gave a brief overview of the NFR to participants, while Rob staffed an NFR exhibit booth.

Miriam Siegel, Rachel Zeiler, and Kenny Fent attended the Science to the Station Conference in Tucson, Arizona. Kenny gave a general session presentation about the NFR.

RTI International set up and staffed an NFR exhibit booth at the Wildland Fire Management Strategy Workshop in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

Alex Mayer attended the International Association of Fire Chiefs, Volunteer Combination Officers Section (VCOS), Symposium in the Sun in Clearwater, Florida. Alex met with various leaders in VCOS and provided information about the NFR.

A group of 5 people working in a room containing long tables full of equipment, a whiteboard, and large television monitor.

NIOSH field team hard at work preparing for biomonitoring of Maui wildfire responders.

Maui Wildfire Response

In September, NIOSH provided an overview about the NFR to the Maui firefighters and provided a link to the enrollment web portal. Many of the Maui firefighters enrolled. Major exposure events like the Maui wildfires further highlight the importance of the NFR.

As part of the CDC/NIOSH response to the Maui wildfires, Kenny Fent led several NIOSH colleagues (including Alex Mayer and Catherine Beaucham from the NFR Program) in the evaluation of firefighters’ and other responders’ exposures. NIOSH collected blood and urine from the responders for analysis. These analyses are still in progress.

What’s Next for the NFR?
  • Begin reaching out to fire departments as part of our targeted enrollment and other efforts to assist firefighters with the enrollment process.
  • Continue to make refinements to the NFR web portal to make the registration process even more user-friendly.
  • Continue to ensure communications are reaching groups of firefighters who have historically been under-represented in research, such as women, minorities, volunteers, and wildland firefighters.
National Firefighter Registry Logo

The NFR is live!

Enroll Today!

email_03Subscribe to NFR Quarterly Newsletter

Please enter your email address to receive the National Firefighter Registry Quarterly Newsletter.

To see more about the NFRS

Please visit the National Firefighter Registry Subcommittee (NFRS) website.