The New York State Senate today passed a measure to help further protect the health of volunteer firefighters who become sick due to the hazards they encounter from their service to the community. The bill (S1411), sponsored by Senator Joseph Griffo (R-C-I, Rome) expands the benefits available to volunteer firefighters when they contract certain illnesses and cancers as a result of their dangerous work.
Senator Griffo said, “It is heartbreaking to see these volunteer firefighters and their families experience so much suffering while coping with cancer, after all they sacrificed to protect our homes and lives from devastating fires. These selfless men and women in our communities volunteer for the fire service for all the right reasons because they want to keep us safe, without ever imagining the price they may pay years later after being exposed to such toxic substances. I am proud to have pushed for this legislation in the Senate on behalf of all our volunteer firefighters, and I hope that the Assembly and Governor will finally join us in providing these volunteers with the support and protections they deserve.”
Overexposure to smoke increases the risk of contracting cancer of the lungs, but may also cause cancer in an individual's esophagus, stomach, blood, intestines, and even the brain. A National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) study suggests firefighters are at higher risk of cancers of the digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary systems when compared to the general population.
This legislation expands the existing coverage available under the Volunteer Firefighters Benefit Law to include cancer of the digestive, hematological, lymphatic, urinary, prostate, neurological, breast and reproductive systems or melanoma.
The bill has been sent to the Assembly.