Ariz. firefighters push for more cancer coverage in workers’ comp.
The state currently covers seven types of cancer it assumes firefighters get from their job
By FireRescue1 Staff
PHOENIX — Firefighters are pushing to add 10 types of cancer to workers’ compensation coverage this week.
The state currently covers seven types of cancer it assumes firefighters get from their job, reported KTAR. However, the firefighter union wants more coverage due to an increase of exposure of toxic chemicals.
“In today’s modern society — in buildings that our people go into everyday — everything is now made out of chemicals,” Professional Firefighters of Arizona President Bryan Jeffries said. “When those chemicals burn, they put off noxious chemicals that [firefighters] are exposed to … The conditions inside fires are much hotter and spread much faster than ever before.”
Those opposed to adding more coverage said during a legislative hearing last month that it will drive the cost of workers’ compensation insurance up.
“Copper Point has accepted five cancer cases since 1988,” Mark Kendall, with Copper Point Mutual Insurance Company, said. “We have either paid out, or have reserves on, those in excess of $7 million. Each of these cases, on average, is over $1 million a case.”
The law now covers brain, bladder, rectal/colon cancer, lymphoma, leukemia and mesothelioma of the respiratory tract.
Goodyear firefighter Gilbert Aguirre said he developed leukemia after 16 years on the job. Without workers’ compensation, he and his family would be homeless, he said.
“My medication’s $12,000 a month,” he said. “I have to come up with the co-pay for that. [My family’s] down to one vehicle, almost lost our house.”