State Rep. TC Clements today joined his House colleagues in approving a measure expanding cancer-related workers’ compensation coverage to more first responders.
A 2014 Michigan law created the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund. The fund provides medical benefits for qualifying first responders who have had cancer manifest as a result of the hazards they encounter.
Current law requires that a firefighter serve on a full-time basis with a fire department or public fire authority. It does not allow part-time, volunteer or on-call firefighters to receive funds.
Clements argues that current law is too narrow as firefighters who do not serve on a full-time basis face the same hazards as full-time firefighters and run the same risk of suffering from cancers that result from their duties.
“Our first responders, whether full time, part time or volunteers, are heroes who put their lives on the line to protect us,” said Clements, of Temperance. “It doesn’t matter if someone fights a fire for a few minutes, or hours, they still risk being exposed by cancer-causing toxins. This legislation helps ensure that all firefighters are covered for work-related illnesses.”
Firefighters have a 9-percent greater chance of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14-percent greater chance of dying from it compared to the general population, according to research by the Centers for Disease Control and National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety. Studies have found a direct correlation between the chemical exposure firefighters endure and their increased cancer risk.
The legislation advances to the Senate for further consideration.
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