Senator Brooks, a lifelong firefighter and former Chief, speaks in support of Senator Gaughran's bill S4173: An act to amend the general municipal law, in relation to proof of eligibility for volunteer firefighter enhanced cancer disability benefits.
The volunteer firefighter disability benefit program provides financial protections to those volunteer firefighters that have contracted cancer as a result of their firefighting duties. As the program has begun to be implemented, there have been a number of departments that have been unable to properly identify those members eligible due to circumstances beyond their control. In some instances, t here have been departments that have lost records and some who, following State Education Depart- ment guidelines, have only kept records for six years. Additionally, there are some older interior firefighters who were not required to take a fit test as currently required and therefore are having difficulty proving eligibility. The proposed legislation would clarify the current law and allow for an additional verification method so that no fire- fighter is excluded from the program who otherwise is eligible.