Pa. vol. firefighters lose workers' comp. under new law
The new law was enacted to help firefighters with cancer
By Robert Swift
HARRISBURG, Pa. — House lawmakers are grappling with an unintended consequence of a state law enacted to financially help firefighters who become ill with cancer.
They are receiving reports that some insurance companies are dropping workers' compensation coverage for volunteer firefighters as a result of this law, which guarantees benefits to those who meet specific criteria. The House Veteran Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee held a hearing this week on the issue and plans to monitor the situation in the next session.
The law, which got support from a number of lawmakers representing Northeastern Pennsylvania, provides that firefighters can receive workers' compensation if they develop cancer and can establish it was caused by direct exposure to carcinogens at a fire or hazardous material accident. The law establishes a rebuttable presumption that a cancer suffered by a firefighter with the required years of service and exposure is considered work-related.