NY lawmakers approve cancer coverage for volunteer firefighters

Posted: Updated:

A bill granting cancer coverage to the state's more than 110,000 volunteer firefighters has passed both chambers of the New York State Legislature.

It's now on its way to the desk of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and the state firemen's association has urged him to sign it "without delay."

The bill would give $25,000 to volunteer firefighters who contract types of cancer including melanoma, digestive, hematological, lymphatic, urinary, prostate, neurological, breast and reproductive.

If a firefighter is unable to work due to illness, the bill grants firefighters 36 months of $1,500 in disability benefits.

And if a firefighter dies, the bill provides a $50,000 benefit to the firefighter's family.

Currently, volunteer firefighters are not afforded disability or health protections except through the Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law, which provides a maximum of $600 a month in disability benefits, according to the bill's introductory memo.

Firefighters are eligible for the health care coverage if they have served at least five years and entered the volunteer service after passing a physical that detected no signs of cancer.

News 12 Long Island spoke with former Port Washington Fire Chief Tom McDonough who was diagnosed with cancer five years ago. He says firefighters are more likely to develop cancers due to their exposure to carcinogens while fighting fires. He says the bill's passage will help future generations of firefighters.

AP Wire Services were used in this report

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