By Bob Katzen

The Senate 39-0, approved an amendment that would provide $300,000 for a municipal grant program for firefighter cancer screenings, including advance blood testing and imaging.

Amendment supporters say the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health undertook two large studies focused on firefighter cancer, concluding that firefighters experienced a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnoses and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths, compared to the nation’s general population.

“Early screening of firefighters is so particularly important in the fight against cancer,” said sponsor Sen. Walter Timilty (D-Milton). “Quite simply, our firefighters experience a higher risk of cancer as a result of the work that they so courageously perform to both protect and care for us. Truly, firefighters both need and must have access to life-saving cancer screenings.”

“Furthermore, the chances of firefighters being diagnosed with terminal leukemia increases with the number of fire-related call responses,” continued Timilty. “In addition, the chance of a lung cancer diagnosis, an insidious disease, and subsequent death, increases with the amount of time a firefighter combats a blaze. In short, firefighting is a dangerous profession. Therefore, we must do everything we can to ensure that firefighters experience the same safety, security and protections they afford to us.”

(A “Yes” vote is for the $300,000.)

Sen. Patricia Jehlen Yes

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