Recently, the Ohio legislature voted in favor of a bill that will help firefighters with certain types of cancers get the benefits they deserve – both through the workers’ compensation system and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund.
While the proposed legislation still needs Governor Kasich’s signature, once it goes into effect, it will create the legal presumption that a firefighter’s cancer was contracted “in the course of and arising out of the firefighter’s employment” – meaning he or she will be entitled to medical treatment and other workers’ comp benefits. This is certainly good news for firefighters and their families.
What the law specifically says
Under the language of Senate Bill 27 – otherwise known as the “Michael Louis Palumbo, Jr. Act” – a firefighter will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits following a cancer diagnosis so long as he or she was assigned to at least six years of “hazardous duty.”
However, it is important to point out that there are some exceptions to this new law. For instance, a firefighter may not be able to collect workers’ comp if:
- The firefighter is over 70 years old
- There is evidence that the firefighter was a smoker or otherwise exposed to cigarettes, tobacco products or other conditions that create a high risk for the development of cancer
- There is evidence that the firefighter developed/incurred his or her cancer before becoming a firefighter
- There is evidence that the firefighter was not actually exposed to certain carcinogens while he or she was a firefighter
In addition, the proposed legislation also states that the legal presumption described above will not apply if it has been more than 20 years since the firefighter was last assigned to hazardous duty.
However, while this new bill does have several restrictions, it will nevertheless help countless firefighters – and their family members – get the benefits they need and deserve.