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New federal registry will track cancer in firefighters

Posted: 1:51 AM, Jul 18, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-18 08:51:28Z

Going into effect last week, a new law will aim to help fire fighters in their battle with cancer by collecting key information.

The Centers for Disease Control is now required to track information through the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act.

Kern County Fire Captain Jim Elia was diagnosed with Leukemia in 2016 after over 20 years on the job.

"We are now realizing all of us are getting cancer, and when you think about the environments that we are in, it's like of course," said Elia.

Elia believes this registry is a good start to create solutions that will keep future generations of firefighters healthy.

"When I was coming up, in terms of dirt and being in the middle of it, it was almost like a badge of honor," said Elia. "Well now I think that we have to look at the way the real smart guys have a clean helmet and clean turnouts. That is the new mentality we have to adopt."

Elia said he's implemented stricter decontamination policies at his own station since his diagnosis.

According to the Centers for Disease Control, firefighters have a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer related deaths than the general American population.