New York Representative Introduces Firefighter Cancer Registry Act

Bill from Representative Hanna of New York would create a collection of firefighter cancer data
U.S. Fed News Published Monday, March 14, 2016

WASHINGTON, March 11 - Rep. Richard L. Hanna, [R-NY-22], has introduced a bill (H. R. 4625), legislation that would "require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a voluntary patient registry to collect data on cancer incidence among firefighters."

The bill, introduced on Feb. 25, has 11 co-sponsors. It was referred to the Committee on Energy and Commerce.

A copy of the full-text of the legislation follows: To require the Secretary of Health and Human Services to develop a voluntary patient registry to collect data on cancer incidence among firefighters.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,


This Act may be cited as the 'Firefighter Cancer Registry Act of 2016'.


Congress finds the following:

(1) Studies conducted since the 1990s have indicated a strong link between firefighting and an increased risk for several major cancers.

(2) The cancers identified as most common among firefighters according to these studies include testicular cancer, which male firefighters are 102 percent more likely to be diagnosed with, stomach cancer, multiple myeloma, and brain cancer, among several others.

(3) The heightened incidence of cancer among firefighters has been attributed to their frequent exposure to a range of harmful substances including resultant pyrolysis products, toxic particulates, gases and fumes, metals such as cadmium and lead, chemical substances such as benzene and vinyl chloride, and minerals such as asbestos and silicates.

(4) An extensive 2014 study conducted by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) over the course of several years and which included almost 30,000 firefighters found that firefighters were at an increased risk of being diagnosed with malignant mesothelioma and found potential links between exposure to fire incidents and heightened risks for lung cancer and leukemia, among several others.

(5) Past studies examining cancer incidence among firefighters have been limited by the availability and standardization of important epidemiological data, relatively small sample sizes, inconsistencies in the operationalization of key terms and metrics, incomplete employment histories, and an underrepresentation of minority, female, and volunteer firefighters.

(6) Today, many States across the country maintain cancer registries that collect and collate information regarding cancer diagnoses, demographic information, and treatment plans. State cancer registries have greatly contributed to overcoming these obstacles by offering centralized repositories of information, which researchers in the public and private sectors can access when conducting research on cancer risks.

(7) While these State-based cancer registries undoubtedly contribute to furthering research related to assessing cancer incidence among firefighters, a special purpose national cancer registry would provide researchers and public health agencies with more direct and comprehensive access to the specific set of information they need to conduct more robust, focused, and epidemiologically rigorous research on cancer incidence among firefighters.

(8) Efforts to understand cancer incidence among firefighters through a specialized national cancer registry will better inform the kinds of precautions firefighters should take in the future, improve our understanding of key epidemiological trends, and potentially lead to the development of more sophisticated safety protocols to lower cancer risks.


(a) In General- The Secretary of Health and Human Services, acting through the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, shall develop and maintain a voluntary patient registry to collect data on cancer incidence among firefighters.

(b) Use of Registry- The patient registry shall be used for the following purposes:

(1) To establish and improve collection infrastructure and activities related to the nationwide monitoring of the incidence of cancer among firefighters.

(2) To collect, consolidate, store, and make publicly available epidemiological information related to cancer incidence and trends among firefighters.

(c) Relevant Data- In carrying out the voluntary data collection for purposes of inclusion under the patient registry under subsection (a), the Secretary should seek to include the following de-identified information:

(1) With respect to cancer diagnoses and treatment of firefighters, de-identified information on--

(A) full detailing of physical examinations and medical history;

(B) complete detailing of all relevant diagnostic tests and lab procedures;

(C) complete detailing of all pathology and operative reports; and

(D) complete detailing of treatments undergone or planned.

(2) With respect to individual patient history relating to the incidence of cancer among firefighters, de-identified information on--

(A) basic demographic information, including the age of the firefighter involved and age of onset of cancer;

(B) a listing of status of the firefighter as either volunteer, paid-on-call, or career firefighter;

(C) the number of years on the job and a detailing of additional employment experience that was either performed concurrently alongside firefighting service or anytime thereafter;

(D)(i) a measure of the number of fire incidents attended as well as the type of fire incidents (such as residential house fire or commercial fire); or

(ii) in the case of a firefighter who is unable to provide information on such number and type, an estimate of such number and type based on the method developed under subsection (d)(2); and

(E) a list of additional risk factors, including smoking or drug use, as determined relevant by the Secretary.

(3) Any additional information that is deemed necessary by the Secretary.

(d) Methods-

(1) IN GENERAL- For the purposes described in subsection (b), the Secretary is authorized to incorporate questions into public health surveys, questionnaires, and other databases in existence as of the date of enactment of this Act.

(2) ENSURING REPRESENTATION OF UNDERREPRESENTED GROUPS IN REGISTRY- In carrying out this section, the Secretary shall take such measures as the Secretary deems appropriate to encourage the inclusion of data on minority, female, and volunteer firefighters in the registry established under this section.

(3) METHOD TO ESTIMATE NUMBER AND TYPE OF FIRE INCIDENTS- For purposes of subsection (c)(2)(D), the Secretary, in consultation with the experts described in subsection

(e), shall develop a reliable and standardized method for estimating the number of fire incidents attended by a firefighter as well as the type of fire incident so attended in the case such firefighter is unable to provide such information.

(e) Consultation- The Secretary shall, on a regular basis, seek feedback regarding the utility of the registry established under this section and ways the registry can be improved from non-Federal experts in the following areas:

(1) Public health experts with experience in developing and maintaining cancer registries.

(2) Epidemiologists with experience in studying cancer incidence.

(3) Clinicians with experience in diagnosing and treating cancer incidence.

(4) Active and retired volunteer, paid-on-call, and career firefighters as well as relevant national fire and emergency response organizations.

(f) Research Availability- The Secretary shall develop and make public an approval process for making de-identified cancer registry data submitted for inclusion in the patient registry developed under subsection (a) available without a fee for public research purposes. Such process shall provide that such data shall be made available for such research purposes only if there is an agreement to make findings, journal articles, or other print or web-based publications derived from such research public or available to the relevant stakeholders identified in subsection (e)(4).

(g) Privacy- In carrying out this Act, the Secretary shall apply to the registry developed under subsection (a) data security provisions and privacy standards that comply with the best practices of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as defined by the National Institute of Standards and Technology in Special Publication 800-37 revision 1, as well as the HIPAA privacy regulation, as defined in section 1180(b)(3) of the Social Security Act (42 U.S.C. 1320d-9(b)(3)).

(h) Authorization of Funds- To carry out this section, there are authorized to be appropriated $2,500,000 for each of the fiscal years 2017 through 2021.

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Memorial Stair Climb Barred from One World Trade Center

Building co-owner says security requirements make hosting the stair climb extraordinarily difficult
A firefighter runs past the World Trade Center during the annual "Stephen Siller Tunnel to Towers" memorial run, Sunday, Sept. 28, 2014 in New York. The run honors New York firefighter Stephen Siller who on Sept. 11, 2001 made his way from his Brooklyn firehouse through the Hugh Carey Tunnel, then known as the Brooklyn-Battery Tunnel, to the World Trade Center, where he died in the collapse of the towers. (AP Photo/Mark Lennihan)

By FireRescue staff
Published Tuesday, March 8, 2016

NEW YORK – A 9/11 organization known for its contributions to first responders and veterans has reportedly been denied use of One World Trade Center this year by one of the co-owners of the building.

John Hodge, the chief operating officer of the Tunnel to Towers Foundation told the New York Post that the Durst Organization has cancelled the charity stair climb that honors the 343 members of the FDNY killed in the terror attacks on September 11, 2001.

According to Hodge’s statements in the Post and POLITICO, the Durst Organization cites the design of One World Trade Center along with security requirements make hosting the stair climb extraordinarily difficult.  

Jordan Barowitz, a spokesman for the Durst Organization, is quoted giving reason for the cancellation and that the organization continues to offer their support for the charity event in the future.

The Durst Organization is a co-owner of the building along with the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.  The Port Authority declined to comment and instead referred to Durst, according to POLITICO.

The Tunnel to Towers Foundation event is named after FDNY firefighter Stephen Siller who died in the collapse of the World Trade Center buildings on Sept. 11 after having run through the Brooklyn Battery Tunnel to the site of the attacks.

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Debate Grows Over FDNY Response Time Data

FDNY data conflicts with law that counts response times beginning with dispatchers answering 911 calls
KENNETH GARGER, The New York Post Published Wednesday, March 2, 2016

The city keeps two sets of books when it comes to FDNY emergency response times - and the more easily accessible data show skewed figures that are up to 92 percent more favorable than the actual numbers, the firefighters union said Monday.

The FDNY Web site displays "Fire Statistics" - an outdated way of measuring response times that begins only when a 911 operator turns a call over to a fire dispatcher.

But tucked away on the site, a more accurate compilation of data provides a realistic and much higher set of response times, the Uniformed Firefighters Association claims in a new report.

Local Law 119, which was passed in 2013, requires that the city tally response times from the second the 911 dispatcher answers.

In 2015, according to the first tabulation, the citywide average FDNY response to a structural fire was 4 minutes, 11 seconds, compared with 5 minutes under the updated system.

The average response time to medical emergencies was 4 minutes, 31 seconds - compared with 8 minutes, 11 seconds under the new system. Bronx medical emergencies had an alarming 92 percent disparity.

The FDNY denied any public deception.

"There is nothing misleading about the city's transparent and detailed reporting on response times for emergencies," the FDNY said.

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Patient in New York Crash Thanks Rescuers

Injuries were so severe, South Buffalo lieutenant was not sure the patient would survive
JAMES KWIATKOWSKI RADLICH, The Bufalo News Published Monday, February 29, 2016

Firefighters in South Buffalo found Jessica Powers lying on the ground in early January, minutes after she was run over by a tractor-trailer.

Lt. James Otwell of Engine 25 knew the injuries to the woman's pelvis and internal organs would be extensive, and as he bent over the motionless figure he whispered: "Stay with us. Hang in there. You're going to do this."

Her injuries were so severe Otwell said he was not sure she would survive.

Seven weeks later, Otwell and his crew visited the young woman in Erie County Medical Center. This time the firefighters came bearing good wishes and one giant orchid in blazing yellow.

"Unfortunately, a lot of times when we go on calls we don't get any follow-up," Otwell said. "We don't know how people are doing and we can't just call the hospital and get the information. We'd been thinking about her."

And Powers, who endured 12 surgeries during her first five days in the trauma center, wanted to thank the firefighters who saved her life.

"I fell asleep and all I could hear was the firefighter saying, 'You're going to do this.' I remember him saying he was going to put me on his fire truck and drive me to the hospital if they didn't get an ambulance right now."

"I needed to see them," she said.

Powers was waiting for a bus to take her to work on the morning of Jan. 8, when her life took an unexpected turn. The 29-year-old mother of three was employed as a line cook for Applebee's near the McKinley Mall in the Town of Hamburg.

Police said the accident occurred on South Park near Bailey avenues at about 11 a.m., when the truck turned onto South Park from Bailey. Witnesses said the truck hit Powers in her side, knocked her down and dragged her a short distance before it ran over her midsection.

"Call 911," Powers recalled shouting after she was hit. "I can't move and I hurt."

The firefighters who responded to the scene - Otwell, Gino Gatti, Scott Jankowski and driver Elizabeth Manna - observed numerous severe injuries but no blood, Otwell recalled.

The team applied a neck brace. They placed Powers on a back board. When cutting off her down jacket, Otwell remembered seeing feathers scattered by the wind.

When Powers, 115 pounds and 5-foot-2, arrived at the hospital, which is a first-level adult trauma center, her pelvis was crushed. She had no movement in her legs. She required surgery on her bladder, spleen, colon, stomach and legs.

On Friday, as she propped herself up in her hospital bed to greet a room full of visitors, it became clear Powers had already won many battles. Her blue-green eyes scanned the room as she locked her hands behind her head and took in the scene.

The appearance of the firefighters was arranged by her sister, Dawn Darling, who scoured the firehouses in the area searching for the crew who saved Powers. Darling, 43, said it took a week before she was able to locate and talk with Otwell, thanks to the fluctuation of a firefighter's work schedule.

"I went to all the firehouses trying to find them," Darling said. "I finally got to Southside, but it was a fishing game."

Assembling the entire crew of firefighters who responded to the accident was impossible. Gatti and Jankowski were not able to make the bedside reunion.

Manna, who brought the orchid to the hospital, recalled returning to Station 6 on Southside Parkway after the accident.

"It was a tough day," Manna said. "When we went back to the firehouse we were getting ready for lunch and I couldn't get her out of my mind. Is she going to make it? What will she be like when she comes out of it? It's been on my mind since that day."

One doctor compared the impact the tractor-trailer had on Power's frame to an old-fashioned Corelle plate being dropped from the roof of ECMC, Darling said.

"He said we'd be picking up the shreds for years to come," said Darling, adding that much of her sister's nerves and muscles were crushed.

Otwell stood by the head of Powers' bed watching silently. A smile crossed his face.

"We had two cardiac patients who required extensive resuscitation efforts," he said, "and we wanted to follow up and see how they did, but we never did. It was nice to see that this effort worked."




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  • FDNY Commissioner Releases EMS Contingency Plan

    TransCare private ambulance service declares bankruptcy
    Fire Department City of New York Published Thursday, February 25, 2016

    Today, the state Health Department informed the Fire Department that TransCare, a private ambulance company that participates in the 911 Emergency Medical Service (EMS) system in New York City through contractual agreements with several private hospitals, has filed for bankruptcy.

    On a daily basis, TransCare operates 27 ambulances in the Bronx and Manhattan, staffing a total of 81 ambulance "tours" - or shifts.

    The Fire Department has been aware for several months of the financial difficulties faced by TransCare, and has developed contingency plans - both short and long term - in anticipation of today's announcement.

    To ensure uninterrupted EMS services continue to be provided throughout the city - particularly in Manhattan and the Bronx - I have ordered the immediate implementation of our contingency plans, which includes the following:

    •     Additional FDNY units - staffed on overtime - will be placed into service to fill vacancies created by TransCare.
    •     Private hospital and/or third-party providers of EMS services are being surveyed to ascertain their ability to fill any tours previously staffed by TransCare.

    TransCare has contracts with the following seven hospitals, where - under agreement with the City of New York - it operates ambulances as part of the 911 EMS system:

    Montefiore Medical Center (3 ambulances)
    Bronx-Lebanon Medical Center (6 ambulances)
    Montefiore Medical Center (4 ambulances)
    St. Barnabas Hospital (5 ambulances)

    Beth Israel Medical Center (4 ambulances)
    Mount Sinai Hospital (3 ambulances)

    NYU Langone Medical Center (2 ambulances)

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    New York City Awards $183 Million to FDNY “Black Sunday” Survivors

    Jury awards firefighters, families compensation after tragic Bronx 2005 fire
    On January 23, 2005, a 46-year-old male career Lieutenant (Victim #1) and a 37-year-old male career fire fighter (Victim #2) died, and four career fire fighters were injured during a three alarm fire in a four story apartment building. The victims and injured fire fighters were searching for any potentially trapped occupants on the floor above the fire. The fire started in a third floor apartment and quickly extended to the fourth floor. Fire fighters had been on the scene less than 30 minutes when they became trapped by advancing fire and were forced to exit through the fourth floor windows. The six fire fighters were transported to metropolitan hospitals where the two victims were later pronounced dead. (NIOSH photo)
    Published Tuesday, February 23, 2016

    NEW YORK (AP) — A jury has awarded $183 million to five firefighters or their families in a case stemming from a tenement blaze on a day known as Black Sunday.

    Two firefighters were killed in the Jan. 23, 2005, Bronx fire. Four others were severely injured, including one who died in 2011 as a result of the blaze.

    NIOSH Report: Career Lieutenant and Career Fire Fighter Die and Four Career Fire Fighters are Seriously Injured during a Three Alarm Apartment Fire

    The jury on Monday found the city 80 percent responsible for the deaths and injuries. The building's owners were found liable for 20 percent.

    In February 2010, a judge overturned negligent homicide and reckless endangerment convictions against the owner and manager of the apartment building, where tenants had constructed a labyrinth of illegal walls. A separate jury had previously acquitted two tenants of similar charges.

    The firefighters' lawyer, Vito Cannavo, had argued that the city failed to equip them with the proper ropes to escape; they jumped to get out of the surging blaze.

    The case highlighted the hazards of using temporary walls for illegal apartment conversions. The tenants had turned their living quarters into a deadly maze so they could make extra cash renting rooms, prosecutors said.

    The family of one of the firefighters had settled its case before the verdict.

    About $140 million of the award is to be paid by the city. The rest is to be paid by one of the building's former owners, 234 East 178th Street LLC. The judge has some discretion over the final amount.

    Darrell Whiteley, an attorney for the former building owners, said his clients were pleased that jurors found most of the liability rested with the city and focused on the issue of the failure to provide the proper ropes.

    "Had they had these ropes, every one of the firefighters would have been able to self-evacuate." Whiteley said.

    The city, which said the liability is unfairly apportioned, is considering an appeal.

    Another firefighter also died on Black Sunday while battling an unrelated house fire in Brooklyn.

    Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



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    Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

    Children Injured in Fatal Buffalo Fire

    Father dies after rescuing child in Buffalo house fire
    Two people died in this Buffalo house fire on Friday Feb. 19, 2016 (WIVB photo)
    Published Friday, February 19, 2016

    BUFFALO, N.Y. (WIVB) — A father of three was killed after saving his 9-year-old child from a burning building Friday morning.

    The two-alarm house fire happened at Litchfield and Humber Avenues in Buffalo.

    The three children were all injured during the fire.

    The nine-year-old was taken to Women and Children’s Hospital after suffering severe burns to 90 percent of their body. They were then taken to Shriner’s Hospital for Children in Cincinnati, Ohio — a facility that the American Burn Association says meets the “highest standards of burn care.”

    The child is in critical condition.

    A four-year-old and a two-year-old were also taken to Women and Children’s Hospital. The four-year-old is being treated for smoke inhalation and is in stable condition.

    The two-year-old is said to be in good shape.

    Two firefighters suffered minor burns and were taken to ECMC.

    Witnesses say the family of five had just moved into the downstairs portion of the building one week prior to the fire.

    Two others lived upstairs in the 2.5 story building. A witness says the two living upstairs were an uncle and a nephew and that the uncle was also killed in the fire.

    Numerous fire trucks were on the scene trying to put out the flames after the 4 a.m. blaze began. The house is located near ECMC.

    There is severe damage to the building, but firefighters do not know what started it.

    They believe the blaze started on the first floor. In all, the damage costs added up to $150,000.

    Later in the morning, fire officials said they were waiting on an excavator to come in and investigate the scene. The house is too unstable for officials to go in before that.

    In all, the American Red Cross is helping four adults and four children.

    Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield spoke to News 4 shortly after 6 a.m.

    Buffalo Fire Commissioner Garnell Whitfield on condition of house and rescues

    A witness at the scene appeared angry as a result of the fire, saying, “People lost their lives because of these slum landlords out here.”

    The owner of the home, Sayara Uddin, lives in New York City. News 4 spoke with a resident of Bailey Avenue who said conditions in the home were terrible.

    The resident claims there were problems with hot water and basement flooding. In addition, the Bailey Ave. resident also said the front door did not close properly.

    Two people dead in early morning fire

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    On the Scene: Yonkers Fire Videos: Roof Ventilation during Bronx Fire


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