State Rep. Sue Allor today introduced legislation that would expand compensation to certain first responders who have taken on the risk of contracting cancer through work-related duties.
Under Allor’s plan, fire crash rescue and forest fire officers would now be included on the list of state civil service classifications eligible to claim benefits from the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund. To be covered, firefighters would have to be in active service or have 60 months or more in active service at the time cancer manifests.
Allor, of Wolverine, said fire crash rescue and forest fire officers are currently not eligible to claim benefits from the coverage fund, despite being exposed to hazardous chemicals incidental to fire suppression, rescue or other emergency response services over several decades. Allor added it was important to include these types of firefighters because the nature of their work is to deal with large fires that are difficult to contain, such as airplane or forest fires.
“I am honored to have the opportunity to sponsor this bill supporting our forest fire officers and fire crash rescue officers,” Allor said. “These men and women risk their lives to serve and protect our communities and citizens. The circumstances they are put in sometimes involve the use of AFFF, a firefighting foam that contains PFAS, a class of chemicals known to be unsafe in high concentrations, such as those handled by firefighters. We must ensure they are able to access the care they deserve.”
Allor said her legislation was authored with the help of her constituent, Steve Richardson, a fire crash rescue officer who also serves as “crew chief” at the Alpena Combat Readiness Training Center. Richardson said it is necessary that fire crash rescue and forest fire officers receive the same coverage awarded to other civil servicemen and women who take on the risk of contracting cancer through everyday work exposure. Immediately following the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attack, Richardson – at the time a Paw Paw volunteer firefighter – along with his fellow comrades, set out to New York City to help with emergency response efforts.
“This bill works to clarify language introduced in a previous term that neglected to specify these individuals,” Allor said. “I am lucky to have a constituent like Steve who brought this important issue to my attention.”
House Bill 4934 now moves to the House Insurance Committee for further consideration.