Rep. Elissa Slotkin introduces bill to provide cancer screenings for federal firefighters

Published: May. 8, 2023 at 6:07 PM CDT
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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) - There is a new push in Congress to provide cancer screenings for federal firefighters.

Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin’s (D-MI) Federal Firefighter Cancer Detection and Prevention Act would ensure that federal firefighters at the Department of Defense get these cancer screenings at no cost to them.

“This is another issue of toxic exposure that people get through their jobs. And firefighters who we all depend on and need, that goes for local firefighters and federal firefighters. They use a lot of chemicals in putting out fires, particularly chemicals that include PFAS,” said Rep. Slotkin.

Cancer is the leading cause of death for firefighters. The job often exposes them to hundreds of different kinds of chemicals that come from burning materials, firefighting foam and other places.

That’s why Congresswoman Elissa Slotkin introduced the Federal Firefighter Cancer Detection and Prevention Act.

The bill would provide testing for breast cancer, colorectal cancer and prostate cancer on either an annual or biannual basis, with some tests beginning at age 40.

International Association of Firefighters General President Edward Kelly says testing sooner rather than later is critical.

“It’s so important that we do have these screening protocols in place, because, as we all know, the quicker we can diagnose the cancer, the better the outcome in the long run,” said Kelly.

Slotkin says the bill only affects federal firefighters now but hopes it will serve as a model for state and local communities to develop similar legislation.

“We’re trying to say, hey, look, if federal firefighters, particularly those who work alongside the military, are getting the screening, so should your local force. So, we’re hoping it starts a trend,” she said.

Nebraska Republican Don Bacon is co-sponsoring the bill with Slotkin. They plan to include it in the defense spending bill that must be passed each year.