Firefighters are heroes in our society. Not only do they save homes and businesses from fire, but they are also regularly the first people to arrive at the scene of a medical emergency or traffic crash. Unfortunately, firefighters face significant hidden dangers that many people in the general public do not think about. They are exposed to hazardous elements on a regular basis, get this often leads to a cancer diagnosis. South Carolina is one of two states that does not have any laws supporting some form of firefighter cancer protection. That could be about to change.
What changes could be coming to help firefighters?
According to the International Association of Firefighters, more firefighters die due to job-related cancers than they do due to all other on-duty causes of death combined. Data that links firefighting to cancer, along with the tragic death rate of first responders after helping in the 9/11 attacks, has led to many states expanding benefits for firefighters battling cancer.
In February, state Sen. Thomas Alexander, R-Oconee, filed a bill that would create an insurance fund for all qualifying career and volunteer firefighters to help pay for their cancer treatment. The fund would also provide benefits for their families if they die due to cancer.
According to a study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, firefighters are two times as likely as anybody else in the population to develop mesothelioma and testicular cancer. Data also shows that they are 53% more likely to be diagnosed with multiple myeloma and 51% more likely to suffer from non-Hodgkins lymphoma.
The bill proposed by Sen. Alexander would set aside $3.5 million each year for an insurance fund, and each qualifying firefighter would receive:
- $20,000 upon receiving a cancer diagnosis
- $12,000 each year until their treatment is completed
- $75,000 death benefit for families
We fight for workers’ compensation coverage
At the Dan Pruitt Law Firm, we believe that every firefighter, and every injured worker in South Carolina, deserves to receive proper workers’ compensation benefits. You can contact our Greenville workers’ compensation attorney for a free consultation if you or a loved one have been injured at work and are having trouble receiving your rightful benefits.