Mont. firefighter health and safety bill passes committee

The Firefighter Protection Act aims to make workers’ compensation claims for job-related cancer easier for firefighters


By FireRescue1 Staff

HELENA, Mont. — A bill that would make it easier for firefighters to claim workers’ compensation for job-related cancer passed a state Senate committee.

KPAX reported that the Firefighter Protection Act would allow firefighters to file workers’ compensation claims for certain sicknesses as presumptive occupational diseases.

The bill was passed by the Montana Senate Business and Labor committee with a vote of 9-to-1, meaning it will move to the Senate floor.

Montana firefighters have been fighting for the legislation for almost two decades, according to KRTV.

Sen. Nate McConnell sponsored the bill and said he was inspired to do so after talking to his firefighter brother.

“I called my brother who is a firefighter in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I asked him about presumptive care in New Mexico and he told me a story about a guy in his department who was covered under that bill,” McConnell said.

McConnell got to work in 2017 to see how he could get a law passed for Montana firefighters to be covered under the same kind of legislation.

“What we have here is something I think is comprehensive that will help firefighters whenever they are facing the diseases that are caused by saving our homes and our families,” he said.

While the bill shifts the burden of proof for job-related diseases from the patient to the insurer, an amendment to the bill states that “nothing limits an insurer’s ability to assert that the occupational disease was not caused by the firefighter’s employment history as a firefighter.”

A date has not yet been set for a Senate floor hearing on the bill.

 

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