Firefighter cancer bill advances to the Senate
FRANKFORT, Ky. (WTVQ) – Kentucky firefighters cleared an important legislative hurdle Tuesday as they fight to get benefits for families of firefighters who die of cancer. The Kentucky Senate Appropriations and Revenue Committee passed Senate bill 195. The proposed legislation would give families of firefighters who die from certain types of cancer, $80,000 as an in-the-line-of-duty death benefit.
Firefighters spoke before the committee about scientific studies linking fighting fires to an increased risk of developing cancer.
The bill still needs to pass the full Senate and House before going to Governor Matt Bevin, who is proposing budget cuts as opposed to adding new spending for the state.
The firefighter cancer bill has an emergency clause that would allow for it to take effect immediately, which could benefit the families of at least two Kentucky firefighters who are currently dealing with stage four cancer.
“Right now, this is the most important thing we are working on,” says Chris Barley, president of Lexington Professional Firefighters. “There have been a lot of people come up to me through the years with cancer, who wanted to keep it private. But with all the scientific studies, people are realizing this is an issue.”
The bill has certain restrictions. To be eligible for the death benefit, the firefighter must have been tobacco free for at least ten years and been a firefighter for at least five years concurrently. Also, they must not have been diagnosed with cancer in the past, and the coverage would run out at age 65.
Currently, Kentucky is one of 15 states that does not give death benefits to firefighters who die from cancer.