Connecticut enacts new law to support firefighters diagnosed with cancer

October 23, 2023
firefighter recruits

Firefighters now eligible for compensation and benefits

In a significant move for Connecticut’s firefighter community, a new law has been instituted providing compensation and benefits to those diagnosed with cancer. Details can be found here.

The journey to the new law

For over ten years, advocates have been working to establish this presumption law in Connecticut.

Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association (UPFFA) of Connecticut President Peter Brown expressed: “There have been a lot of hours spent lobbying and building relationships to get to this moment.

“With this new law, fire fighters will not only be able to get wage replacement, but will also be eligible for medical reimbursement, disability retirement, and line-of-duty death benefits in case of cancer.”

Specifics on eligibility and support

To benefit from the provisions of the new law, firefighters need to meet certain criteria.

Their diagnosis must pertain to a condition of cancer affecting various systems such as the brain, skeletal, digestive, and more.

Pre-conditions also include a clear physical examination upon joining the service, annual medical health check-ups, a minimum service duration of five years, and a 15-year smoke-free record prior to the diagnosis.

This legislation received overwhelming endorsement in both chambers of the state legislature: a Senate vote of 35 to 1 and a House vote of 139 to 12.

However, the journey wasn’t without challenges.

Over the years, there was resistance from local governments and insurers due to concerns regarding the financial implications of the law.

The solution came in the form of the Firefighters’ Cancer Relief Fund, which is funded as part of the state budget rather than workers’ compensation.

This strategic move addressed the cost-related concerns of those previously opposed.

Reactions from the firefighting community

3rd District Vice President Jay Colbert emphasized the significance of this law: “All of us know that the chances of us contracting cancer due to on-the-job exposures are high.

“That is why this new presumption law is so crucial. It ensures that they don’t have to worry about missed days on the job or medical reimbursements.

“And, if the worst happens, it ensures that their families will be taken care of.”

Furthermore, Brown expressed gratitude to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) and 3rd District Vice President for their continued support in passing the legislation.

As of now, over 10 firefighters in Connecticut have already filed claims under the provisions of this new law.

FSJA Comment

The enactment of this Connecticut law marks a pivotal moment for firefighters across the state.

Firefighters, who routinely risk their lives to protect others, face increased vulnerability to cancer due to workplace exposures.

By acknowledging and addressing this heightened risk, Connecticut sets a precedent for how we should value and support these brave individuals.

Beyond compensation, the law sends a message of recognition and gratitude, ensuring that firefighters and their families are taken care of during some of the most challenging times.

This legislation also serves as a testament to the dedication and resilience of advocates who, for over a decade, worked tirelessly to make these provisions a reality.

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