Lawmakers introduce bill to reduce risk of cancer for firefighters

Lawmakers introduce bill to reduce risk of cancer for firefighters

In November, Channel 9 reported on the personal story of Mary Tinsley, who lost her husband Seth Tinsley, a Charlotte firefighter, to cancer.

“They saw a tumor the size of a man's fist in his brain and the tech was, like, 'Oh my gosh,’” Tinsley said.

It's a scenario playing out for first responders across the country.

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Now, a legislative breakthrough could one day save lives.

The U.S. Senate voted unanimously to order the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to create a firefighter cancer registry. The voluntary registry would collect data across all 50 states.

Ohio Senator Sherrod Brown wrote the bill.

“Public health people tell me they can gather enough data to make some recommendations down the road, maybe two to three years down the road, to make this already dangerous profession slightly safer for the people who serve us,” Brown said.

A previous study found that firefighters have a higher risk of cancer than others.

Brown hopes the registry will give fire departments the tools to better protect all those who serve and sacrifice, like Tinsley.

“They protect us, they serve us,” Brown said. “We need to protect and serve them in any way we can.”

There is broad bipartisan support for the bill, but it is not yet a law The House needs to schedule a vote on the bill.

Because of the cancer risk, the Charlotte Fire Department requires firefighters to wash their gear immediately and shower at the station.

They send toxic clothes off for a more thorough cleaning. Firefighters get free cancer screenings from the Levine Cancer Institute.