Ky. firefighter cancer bill advances to Senate
The bill aims to make cancer a job-related illness; it would give $80,000 to families of firefighters who die from cancer
FRANKFORT, Ky. — Firefighters are fighting for a bill that would make cancer a job-related illness after a colleague was diagnosed with stage 4 cancer.
WKYT.com reported that state Senate Bill 195 would classify the death of a firefighter from cancer as a line-of-duty death. The bill calls for the state to give $80,000 to families of firefighters who die from cancer.
Firefighters testified before the appropriations and revenue committee explaining how they have a higher risk of developing cancer because of the exposure to dangerous substances.
"New products that are in furniture now that used to be made of natural fibers and woods is now being burned and the new stuff is plastic and pretty much fake and when it burns it gives off more toxins," Lexington Professional Firefighters President Chris Bartley said.
The bill has an emergency clause that would allow for it to take effect immediately. To be eligible for the death benefit, the firefighter must have been tobacco free for at least 10 years and been a firefighter for at least five years concurrently. They must not have been diagnosed with cancer in the past and the coverage would run out at age 65.
The committee approved the bill after the firefighters' testimony and it is now being advanced to the full Senate.
Kentucky is currently one of 17 states that doesn't give death benefits to firefighters who die from cancer. The other states include Idaho, Montana, Wyoming, South Dakota, Arkansas, Mississippi, Ohio, West Virginia, North Carolina, South Carolina, Georgia, Florida, Connecticut, New Jersey, Delaware and D.C.