Working people across the United States have stepped up to help out our friends, neighbors and communities during these trying times. In our regular Service + Solidarity Spotlight series, we'll showcase one of these stories every day. Here’s today’s story.
The Fire Fighters (IAFF) union is celebrating a provision in the recently passed National Defense Authorization Act that extends protections for the firefighters who protect our public lands and military installations. As many as 100 federal firefighters file cancer-related workers’ compensation claims each year, but more than 80% of those are typically rejected. The new law would require that certain cancers be presumed to be occupational, which ensures that federal firefighters will receive workers’ compensation benefits. The new rule applies not only to active federal firefighters, but also those who have retired in the past 10 years. The move is a major victory for firefighters, as it is estimated that nearly 75% of job-related firefighter deaths are attributable to cancer. IAFF District 16 worked with Sens. Susan Collins (Maine) and Tom Carper (Del.) to pass the measure.
IAFF Local 123 President Kyle Moser said that firefighters have been working to secure this protection for more than 30 years, and Maine became the 48th state to adopt the cancer presumption protection.
“Before this bill, a shipyard firefighter would be fighting fires in local towns beside municipal firefighters, but if they both got occupational cancer, only the local firefighter would have a presumption for workers’ compensation benefits,” Moser said. “We want to thank Senator Collins, Senator Maggie Hassan and the rest of the Maine and New Hampshire Congressional delegations for supporting this critical measure.”