Arizona legislators intended to acknowledge the inherent danger in being a firefighter in 2017 by passing a law identifying specific cancers that would be automatically linked to on-the-job exposure and covered under the workers’ compensation system.
Unfortunately, government bureaucracy is undermining that intent by denying claims and causing costly legal battles, State Senator Heather Carter charges in a release. Some city governments have been particularly aggressive in exploiting loopholes to deny firefighters’ claims.
To remedy this, Carter has introduced new legislation to make clear that firefighters suffering from any of a list of occupational diseases such as cancer recognized by previous legislation are automatically assumed to have contracted the condition on the job.
“My bill reaffirms the legislative protections we intended and adds ovarian and breast cancer to the list of recognized cancers,” Carter said. “Firefighters answer our emergency calls and protect our communities. Now it’s our turn to protect them.
“We made them that promise,” she said.
The Arizona senate voted 25-4 to pass Senate Bill 1160 Wednesday. The bill now heads to the state House.
Studies conducted by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health concluded that firefighters face a nine percent increase in cancer diagnoses and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths compared to the general population.
The Facebook page for the Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona thanked responders across the state who attended a legislative conference in support of the legislation last month.
“We are not there yet, but this was a huge step forward for this important cause,” the Facebook page states.