ALBANY, N.Y. — Gov. Andrew Cuomo has signed a bill allowing health-care benefits for volunteer firefighters who have been diagnosed with certain cancers.
Volunteer firefighters are currently eligible for accidental disability and death benefits through workers’ compensation if they are injured in the line of duty.
Effective Jan. 1, 2019, firefighters will also be eligible for health benefits to support treatment for life-threatening cancers, Cuomo’s office said in a news release issued Sunday.
“New York is forever grateful to the 96,000 volunteer firefighters who selflessly put their own personal safety at risk in order to keep their neighbors and communities safe,” Cuomo said in the release. “With this measure, we will provide these courageous New Yorkers the protections they need and the peace of mind they deserve.”
New York State Assemblymen Anthony Brindisi (D–Utica) and William Magee (D–Nelson), and New York State Senator David Valesky (D–Oneida), on Aug. 10 had rallied with members of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, and area volunteer firefighters asking Cuomo to sign the legislation that all three legislators sponsored to improve cancer coverage for volunteer firefighters.
The legislators and supporters gathered at the Chittenango Fire Department to discuss the importance of the bill to provide coverage for presumptive cancers contracted by firefighters, according to an Aug. 10 news release that Brindisi’s office has issued.
About the law
Under the new law, volunteer firefighters who contract certain cancers will have access to tax-free disability and death benefits.
Specifically, volunteer firefighters diagnosed with lung, prostate, breast, lymphatic, hematological, digestive, urinary, neurological, reproductive systems, or melanoma cancer will be “automatically eligible” for health benefits if “upon entry to volunteer, a physical exam did not show any evidence of the cancers covered by this bill.”
In addition, “individuals have at least five years of service fighting fire in the interior of buildings and the firefighter is currently active or within 5 years of his or her last active date,” according to the news release.
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