Va. firefighters march for better cancer coverage
Hundreds of firefighters gathered in Richmond to advocate for a bill that would expand firefighter cancer coverage
By FireRescue1 Staff
RICHMOND, Va. — Hundreds of firefighters are marching together to advocate for better cancer coverage.
WSLS reported that firefighters from all over the state gathered in Richmond to show their support for House Bill 1804, which would add brain, colon and testicular cancer to the list of cancers covered by the Workers Compensation Law. The bill would also expand official line of duty death coverage to those who die of job-related cancers.
I will continue to fight and advocate for our first responders. My bill HB1804 adds additional cancer types to the already existing coverages of the Virginia Worker's Compensation Act. The time is now to ensure our firefighters and their families get the protections they deserve. pic.twitter.com/HRMdAIquOP— Tim Hugo (@TimHugo) January 16, 2019
Martha Creasy, widow of Richmond Fire Marshal Chief David Creasy, led the march.
"He’s channeling through all of us today,” she told NBC12.
Creasy’s stomach cancer was not covered under worker’s comp, and his family was forced to spend thousands of dollars a month for his treatment.
"Cancer is something that is taking away our firefighters on a daily basis, and we need to give them more protection,” his wife said.
Virginia's firefighters fighting for cancer presumption. This should be a non-partisan issue. @VASenate @VaHouse @VAGOPCaucus @vademocrats It's election season and we're paying attention. pic.twitter.com/WYb0Xtp0c5— Jeremy Mader (@JeremyMaderVA) January 15, 2019
Roanoke County Firefighters Union President Greg Sazonov agreed.
"It is the number one cause of our line of duty deaths and, something needs to change and we're really, really hoping our legislators will support us," Sazonov said.
Stafford firefighter Steve Weissman, a 40-year fire service veteran, was diagnosed with prostate cancer four years ago.
"One of my biggest fears was how to tell my family that I was diagnosed with cancer,” he said.
After years of fighting for worker’s compensation, his claim was denied.
Firefighters walking up to General Assembly with Bagpipes accompanying their march pic.twitter.com/P1aJ4cJNbU— Virginia Poverty Law Center (@VPLC) January 15, 2019
"I served the Commonwealth of Virginia for almost 40 years as a firefighter, and never in my wildest dreams would I expect the Commonwealth of Virginia to let me down,” Weissman said.
Virginia Professional Fire Fighters President Robert Bragg said the decision to pass the bill or not “boils down to money versus morals.”
“Is it morally correct to cover a firefighter or public safety officer who gives their life in the line of duty, or is it all about the almighty dollar?” he said.
Firefighters all across Virginia coming together for change... demanding better legislation for cancer prevention and workers compensation. At least 150 firefighters marched to Capitol grounds today @HenricoFire @HanoverFireEMS1 @IAFFL2803 @RFDVA @TheVaPFF @8NEWS @ffxfirerescue pic.twitter.com/5zhIQyIkAI— Talya Cunningham (@Talya8news) January 15, 2019