© 2024 Aspen Public Radio
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Wildland firefighters strongly encouraged to enroll in new national registry for cancer

Aaron Kunz

The National Firefighter Registry is being called the biggest effort to date by the U.S. government to understand the link between fighting fire and cancer. Its enrollment portal opened last month, and wildland firefighters are being strongly encouraged to participate.

There’s much to be learned about the link to cancer across the firefighting profession, but Kenny Fent, the team lead of the effort by the CDC’s National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, said the gaps in knowledge are especially concerning among those who have worked on wildfires.

“Of all the different types of firefighters, we probably know the least about wildland firefighters and their long-term health outcomes,” he said. “Because of that, it's especially important that we get wildland firefighters to enroll in the NFR.”

So far, Fent says more than 4,000 firefighters have enrolled, and about 15% report working wildland fires at some point in their careers.

The NFR's goal over the next several years is to get some 200,000 firefighters registered, including 10,000 to 15,000 wildland firefighters.

“We hope to get even more than that if we can,” Fent said.

They’re also encouraging participation among women, people of color and volunteer firefighters, all of whom have been underrepresented in past studies, according to Fent.

This story was produced by the Mountain West News Bureau, a collaboration between Wyoming Public Media, Nevada Public Radio, Boise State Public Radio in Idaho, KUNR in Nevada, the O'Connor Center for the Rocky Mountain West in Montana, KUNC in Colorado, KUNM in New Mexico, with support from affiliate stations across the region. Funding for the Mountain West News Bureau is provided in part by the Corporation for Public Broadcasting.

Copyright 2023 Boise State Public Radio News. To see more, visit Boise State Public Radio News.

Murphy Woodhouse