Huge Step for Volunteer Firefighters Fighting for Equal Healthcare
Volunteer firefighters who have been asking Congress to help when it comes to cancer diagnoses in the line of duty have been heard. And a new bill has been passed to include health benefits to those who risk their lives on a daily basis.
This is huge news for volunteer firefighters across the state of New York. For quite some time, they have been fighting for equal healthcare when it comes to their jobs.
Firefighters and volunteer firefighters have the same job: They are on call, they rush into burning buildings, and they put other people’s lives ahead of their own. They both are also exposed to toxic chemicals from the burning buildings that in many cases, cause cancer. There is one major difference between the two, though. Paid firefighters have presumptive cancer coverage, volunteer firefighters do not...
That is, until now.
A new bill has been passed that will help volunteer firefighters in the tragic event they are diagnosed with cancers relating to their job. According to The Firemen's Association of the State of New York, the bill covers firefighters diagnosed with lung, prostate, breast, lymphatic, hematological, digestive, urinary, neurological, reproductive systems, or melanoma cancers. But there are some qualifications that must be met. According to FASNY,
[Volunteer firefighters] will be automatically eligible for health benefits if:
- Upon entry to volunteer, a physical exam did not show any evidence of the cancers covered by this bill;
- Individuals have at least five years of service fighting fire in the interior of buildings; and
- The firefighter is currently active or within 5 years of his or her last active date.
The bill was signed in by Governor Andrew Cuomo over the weekend, with it going in effect January 2019.
Throughout MANY of our "Firefighter Friday" interviews, we've heard volunteer firefighters telling us about the hardship of cancer diagnoses in their line of work. We've heard the fight for equal healthcare for firefighters, and we've heard about fantastic organizations like Believe 271 that looks to take the financial burden off volunteer firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer.
It's fantastic to hear a bill like this has finally been passed, and will help give peace of mind to firefighters both up and coming, and those who have served for many years. They have enough to worry about, paying for cancer treatment after a lifetime dedicated to serving the community and helping others, should not be one of them.