IAFC Review Panel Cites Flawed Methodology in Cancer Presumption Report
Published: 4/29/2009
Author: The International Association of Fire Chiefs

The IAFC has issued the findings of an expert panel convened by the organization through the IAFC Safety, Health and Survival Section. The panel found a recently released report challenging cancer presumption laws for firefighters used flawed research methodology that produce predetermined outcomes.

The National League of Cities’ (NLC) report under review, Assessing State Firefighter Cancer Presumption Laws and Current Firefighter Cancer Research, was a study of 17 previous studies and offered no new independent research data.

The IAFC’s panel of medical research experts questioned the NLC report’s “subjective and highly questionable methodology,” citing the lack of quantitative review, inconsistencies in published criteria for which studies were selected for inclusion and the inability of NLC investigators to reliably classify the studies included.

“If the National League of Cities is truly concerned about evaluating this issue ‘objectively and scientifically’ as they stated in their press release, then they need to look at all the data in a scientifically sound manner,” said IAFC President Chief Larry J. Grorud, CFO, MIFireE.

Those reviewing the NLC report likened the organization’s conclusions—“a lack of substantial evidence” for presumption and a call to halt new presumption laws until further, high-level research can be done—to the tactics used by the tobacco industry.

“Data-based research is one of our strongest allies in reducing firefighter deaths, injuries and disease, but not if we frame the questions or manipulate the data with an end result already in mind,” continued Grorud. “Rather than ignoring it, we ought to be looking closely at the ample data that does indicate a link between firefighting and cancer and how that data may support prevention. Future investments in research need to be forward-focused on preventing firefighter illness and deaths. This report offers the men and women of the fire service no path forward.”

Earlier today, the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) issued their assessment of the NLC report with a joint statement of the IAFF and IAFC in regard to the report. The IAFC and the IAFF are committed to working together to ensure firefighters are guaranteed the protection they need when fighting for their lives against work-related cancers.



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