For several years now, it’s been well-known that firefighters suffer from cancer at a much higher rate than the general population.
In fact, the 2016 release of a comprehensive study of over 30,000 firefighters who served in several large cities between 1950 and 2010 confirmed what many firefighters already knew from anecdotal evidence: Chemical exposure to toxic fumes released by burning materials could cause cancer.
The study, which was undertaken by the National Institute for Occupational Health and Safety (NIOSH), found that firefighters are 9% more likely than other people to receive a cancer diagnosis and 14% more likely to die from that cancer. It even showed a direct correlation between the number of fire runs a firefighter made during his or her career and the greater likelihood of developing certain types of cancer, like leukemia. Yet, many firefighters around the nation have had to struggle to get their cancer treated as an on-the-job injury, which would entitle them to workers’ compensation benefits and medical care that’s desperately needed.
Finally, firefighters in Florida will see some relief. Governor Ron DeSantis signed a new law on May 3 that now allows firefighters to claim cancer as a work-related injury and get treatment without having to struggle to prove “by a preponderance of the evidence” that exposure to something specific led to their illness. The bill was signed despite heavy objections from the Florida League of Cities. The League said that the bill could place an unfair burden on residents by increasing property taxes.
Among other things, the new legislation provides firefighters with a $25,000 payment for out-of-pocket expenses, like travel for treatment and hotel accommodations for their caregivers when they’re in the hospital.
If you’ve been sickened due to your on-the-job exposure to chemicals or other toxic materials, it’s important to find out everything you can about your right to compensation. There may be more available than you realize. Get legal guidance today.