Today the Vermont Senate gave final approval to S.73, a bill that would strengthen workers compensation coverage for all firefighters by expanding the types of cancer presumed to be a result of on-duty exposures.
“On-duty firefighters are exposed to hazardous materials and conditions that greatly increase their risk of being diagnosed with cancer,” said Senator Baruth, president pro tempore of the Vermont Senate and lead sponsor of the bill. “In passing S.73, we are acknowledging that more women are serving as volunteer or career firefighters, their service comes with increased health risks and we are committed to strengthening workers compensation coverage to protect all firefighters in Vermont.”
“Vermont’s thousands of volunteer and career firefighters put their lives on the line everyday to prepare for and fight devastating fires and disasters,” said Senator Ram Hinsdale, chair of the Senate Committee on Economic Development. “This often comes in the form of exposing themselves to smoke and toxins that increase their risk of cancer, and it increasingly includes more women. This bill enhances equity and compassion in how we care for our local heroes, our firefighters.”
Cancer is a leading cause of death among firefighters and research shows that firefighters are at higher risk of developing certain types of cancers when compared to the general population. By expanding the types of cancer included in the presumption, we are demonstrating a commitment to supporting all firefighters by decreasing the likelihood their workers’ compensation claims will be denied.
“Our firefighters put their lives on the line for Vermonters and in doing so put themselves at a higher risk for certain types of cancer,” said Senator Clarkson, senate majority leader and member of the Senate Committee on Economic Development and General Affairs. “All firefighters deserve the assurance that they will not be denied workers compensation coverage should they need it.”
The International Association of Firefighters (IAFF) reported that 66% of career firefighter deaths from 2002-2019 were caused by cancer. As more data becomes available about the impacts of on-duty exposures, states across the country have been considering strengthening workers compensation coverage protections for all firefighters.
“I want to thank Senator Baruth, the Senate Committee on Economic Development, and all members of the Senate for supporting this important legislation,” said Christopher Dube, President of the Professional Fire Fighters of Vermont (PFFVT). “Our concerns were heard and they responded with a strong vote of support. We look forward to continuing to work with the Senate to promote protections for all firefighters in our state.”
The bill will now move to the House for further consideration.
You can learn more about S.73, an act relating to workers’ compensation coverage for firefighters with cancer, on the legislative website.
Categories: Press Release