Senator Paul Bailey has introduced a bill that would provide more benefits to full-time firefighters diagnosed with cancer.
Bailey said the bill hits close to home for him on a personal level.
“This is a piece of legislation that I am very passionate about due to having a friend of mine from the Sparta Fire Department that was diagnosed with colon cancer over a year ago,” Bailey said. “They presume that it was caused by his 27-plus years of being on the job as a firefighter.”
Senate Bill 1442 expands workers compensation benefits to full-time firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer.
“Research is showing that many firefighters are now getting cancer due to long-term exposure to a lot of fumes,” Bailey said. “This is something that is very important that’s moved through the Commerce Committee. I passed it out with unanimous support.”
Bailey presented the bill to the Senate Commerce and Labor Committee March 5 and said the bill would apply to firefighters constantly exposed to toxic elements during their employment.
“A firefighter must have been exposed to heat, smoke, and fumes, or carcinogenic poisonous, toxic, or chemical substances during the course of five or more consecutive years of employment with a fire department,” Bailey said. “Eligible firefighters seeking to utilize this presumption must pass a pre-employment physical exam, and submit to annual occupational cancer screenings during the course of employment.”
The bill would cover four types of cancer typically diagnosed among firefighters, including nonhodkins lymphoma, multiple melanomas, colon, and skin cancers.
Bailey noted during the Committee meeting at least 13 firefighters within three different west Tennessee fire departments have been diagnosed with cancer over the last 30 years.
The bill passed the Commerce and Labor Committee unanimously and now moves to the Senate Finance Committee.