NEWTOWN, Conn. -- The House of Representatives approved a bill on Wednesday with the support of State Rep. Dan Carter that would expand wage replacement benefits to current and former firefighters suffering from cancer contracted from exposure to harsh job-related conditions.
Carter is a Republican who represents the 2nd District of Bethel, Danbury, Newtown and Redding.
The bill, H.B. 5262, outlines plans for a new Firefighters Cancer Relief Account run by the Connecticut State Firefighters Association and funded by a small portion of e911 phone bill fees.
In previous years, similar proposals failed to pass through the General Assembly because funds would have been instead sourced from municipalities. This year, the lawmakers were able to agree to eliminate the idea of creating another municipal mandate out of this legislation.
Beginning on July 1, 2019, volunteer firefighters and fire marshals, investigators and inspectors who have been working and in compliance with OSHA requirements for at least five years -- and have not used tobacco for 15 years -- would be eligible for up to two years of these benefits if they can show with medical screenings that they contracted cancer as a direct result of their job. Individuals who leave service and continue to receive annual physicals will remain eligible for five years after leaving.
“With medical research becoming ever-more refined in regards to what causes cancer, we cannot deny that our firefighters are at an incredible disadvantage in terms of maintaining their health after years of facing intolerable environments at all hours, any time of the year,” said Rep. Carter. “If we had become aware of, and able to help with, the severity of this issue earlier, we could have provided much-needed care to so many more of our selfless heroes.”
The Session concludes May 4. The bill will need to be approved by the Senate, and signed by Gov. Dannel Malloy, before becoming law.
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