Today, Representative Peggy Bennett (District 27A – Albert Lea) introduced a bill to create a statewide firefighter cancer registry.
One of the reasons for the introduction was that firefighters seem to have a higher rate of contracting cancer, and the question arises, what in the fires is causing the cancer.
Representative Bennett’s bill would start keeping track of those firefighters who get diagnosed with cancer, in hopes to discover a common thread from where the cancer is contracted.
Three Albert Lea firefighters were recently diagnosed with cancer within the span of a year.
One of those firefighters was 31 year old Brett Boss who was diagnosed with a rare bone cancer. Another member of Albert Lea Fire and Rescue was diagnosed with testicular cancer. Arson Investigator Doug Johnson was diagnosed with inoperable brain cancer. Johnson passed away in October 2016 at the age 51.
Bennett’s proposal will keep the firefighters who are diagnosed as anonymous in the state registry.
The greatest risk to firefighters comes from the carcinogenic soot that sticks to equipment and gear along with the fact that exposure to this soot can continue long after the fire is out.