Senators Carper and Collins Introduce Legislation to Increase Testing and Prevention of Cancer in Federal Firefighters

U.S. Senators Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Federal Firefighter Cancer Detection and Prevention Act of 2023 to increase testing and screenings for cancer in active duty and civilian firefighters at the Department of Defense (DOD). The prevention testing would be conducted as part of the annual DOD physicals and would screen for prostate, colorectal, and breast cancer.

“Firefighters put their lives in dangerous situations every day to protect our communities, and they do so much more than fire safety, responding to more than 36 million emergency calls every year,” said Senator Carper, co-chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus. “As a result, firefighters often disproportionately experience rates of cancer. It is our responsibility to ensure they have the health care resources they need to lead healthy lives, during and after their service. Testing for these cancers, and potentially catching them in the early stages, could save lives and I’m proud to lead this bipartisan legislation with my colleagues.”   

“Cancer is the leading cause of death for our firefighters who risk their lives to keep our communities safe,” said Senator Collins. “When these brave men and women answer the call to protect families in Maine and across the country, they are exposed to hazards which make them susceptible to certain cancers and health complications. This bipartisan bill will improve the data and information we have about these health risks so we can best provide our first responders with the necessary resources and equipment to protect their health.”

A bipartisan companion bill in the House of Representatives was introduced by Reps. Elissa Slotkin (D-Mich.) and Don Bacon (R-Neb.). The Senate and the House versions of the bill are endorsed by the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF).

“Every day, federal fire fighters courageously protect our military installations, national security, and the brave men and women who wear our nation’s uniform. This dedication comes with risk, including a surge in occupational cancer affecting fire fighters,” said Edward Kelly, IAFF General President. “The IAFF proudly supports Sens. Carper and Collins for boldly directing the Department of Defense to conduct age-appropriate cancer testing as an integral part of federal fire fighters’ mandatory medical examinations, reaffirming our collective pledge to prioritize the health and well-being of fire fighters.”

Senator Carper has been a leading advocate for firefighters in the Senate. In addition to making sure firefighters and first responders have the health care resources they need, Senator Carper recently joined his colleagues in leading the Fire Grants and Safety Act to ensure that they have the physical equipment and training resources needed to protect our communities. Senator Carper spoke on the Senate floor in support of firefighters and first responders across the country and has focused on ensuring that firefighters are recognized for their dangerous work.