The Rutgers School of Public Health has received a $1.5 million Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) grant to support volunteer firefighter cancer research. This grant will enhance the research currently underway in collaboration with Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey, which is geared toward better understanding cancer risk factors, as well as the development of cancer prevention and risk reduction strategies for New Jersey firefighters, with a focus on volunteers. As the state’s only National Cancer Institute–designated Comprehensive Cancer Center, Rutgers Cancer Institute is at the forefront of cancer research, prevention, and treatment.
The disease is a growing concern among firefighters, who are routinely exposed to cancer-causing agents in the line of duty. Although volunteers make up the majority of U.S. and New Jersey fire services, almost all previous research on cancer has been conducted among career firefighters. In New Jersey, volunteers make up more than 80% of the state’s 37,500 active-duty firefighters.
State and National Studies
Judith Graber, PhD
The new grant will support the Cancer Assessment and Prevention Study, which works with fire departments across the state to assess how volunteer exposures resemble and differ from those of career firefighters. The project also explores barriers toward postfire decontamination among volunteers.
The Cancer Assessment and Prevention Study also offers firefighters the opportunity to participate in the national Fire Fighters Cancer Cohort Study—an ongoing study of cancer and cancer risk among firefighters—and to work with state and national partners to engage volunteer fire departments in their research and to disseminate their findings to help reduce cancer risk among volunteers.
“With this Federal Emergency Management Agency funding, the Cancer Assessment and Prevention Study will engage with volunteer firefighters and stakeholders in New Jersey and nationally to address the knowledge gap in cancer-causing exposures and risk factors among volunteer firefighters and inform cancer prevention strategies,” said the grant’s principal investigator, Judith Graber, PhD, Associate Professor at the Rutgers School of Public Health and Associate Member of the Cancer Prevention and Control Program at Rutgers Cancer Institute of New Jersey.