Connecticut Takes Bold Stand for Firefighters’ Health with New Cancer Legislation

Waterbury, Connecticut – State leaders met at the Waterbury Fire Department on Wednesday to highlight a new law that provides necessary treatment for firefighters diagnosed with cancer without requiring them to prove how they contracted the disease. The gathering took place in honor of Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month. One firefighter, Joseph Bogdanski, discovered he had thyroid cancer last year after undergoing a cancer screening at the fire department. Despite the typically slow-moving and treatable nature of thyroid cancer, Bogdanski’s case was aggressive.

Firefighters face high risks of being diagnosed with cancer, with studies showing that they have a 14% higher risk of dying from it compared to the general population. In fact, cancer accounts for nearly three-quarters of all firefighter deaths, as reported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the past, Connecticut firefighters diagnosed with cancer lacked essential workplace protections.

Under the newly enacted presumptive cancer legislation, firefighters like Bogdanski will not only receive wage replacement but will also be eligible for medical reimbursement, disability retirement, and line-of-duty death benefits. This means that these firefighters will no longer have to worry about job security or financial stability when they fall ill. Pete Brown, the leader of the Uniform Professional Firefighter Association of CT, emphasized the significance of this law and how it provides much-needed peace of mind for firefighters and their families.

The need for these workplace protections was exemplified by the experience of Lori Pepler, a widow from Torrington. After her husband, a firefighter, passed away from occupational cancer in 2017, she had to take legal action to ensure that the city of Torrington honored its pension commitments to her and her son. Although it took years, a settlement was eventually reached. Pepler expressed hope that future families will be spared from the arduous battle she went through, thanks to the passage of this law.

In addition to legislative changes, fire departments across the state are taking steps to minimize the risks of toxin exposure for firefighters. This includes practices like not wearing contaminated gear on errands, storing it separately during transit, thorough cleaning, post-fire decontamination, and changing protective hoods. These measures aim to protect firefighters from the harmful effects of exposure to cancer-causing substances.

Overall, the new law in Connecticut marks an important step forward in ensuring the well-being of firefighters diagnosed with cancer. Through increased financial support and workplace protections, these brave individuals can focus on their health and recovery without the added burden of uncertainty. To find out more about eligibility for protection under this law, individuals are encouraged to visit the provided link.