Firefighters push for equal health coverage

The Firemen's Association of the State of New York wants health coverage for all firefighters, whether they are paid or volunteer.

The Firemen's Association of the State of New York wants health coverage for all firefighters, whether they are paid or volunteer. (9/17/15)

PORT WASHINGTON - There has been a call to help New York state firefighters in the battle against cancer.

The Firemen's Association of the State of New York wants health coverage for all firefighters, whether they are paid or volunteer.

Currently, volunteer firefighters have coverage similar to workers' compensation for work-related injuries. The coverage is paid for by their local fire department, fire district or local municipality. Heart and lung disease and lung cancer are also covered, but not other forms of cancer.

Firefighters are lobbying for the state to pass what is called a presumptive law. Under that law, if a firefighter is diagnosed with any of the cancers listed in the legislation, it would be presumed that the disease was a result of their work as a firefighter. The insurance coverage would automatically take effect.

Doctors say studies show that firefighters are more likely to develop cancers simply because of the carcinogens to which they are exposed while on the job.

Other states, including New York, have presumptive laws that cover paid firefighters, but only a handful cover volunteers.

There are about 92,000 volunteer firefighters in New York, according to the Fireman's Association.

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