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DeSantis Signs Firefighter Cancer Benefits

Two firefighters battle a blaze of smoke.
Benjamin Krensha
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

After the proposal received unanimous support in the Legislature, Gov. Ron DeSantis on Friday signed a bill that will expand benefits for firefighters who are diagnosed with 21 types of cancers. 

Supporters of the bill pointed to cancer dangers faced by firefighters, in part because firefighters are exposed to more burning chemicals and plastics than in the past.

“There will be a system in place to allow them to have some benefits and coverage, in addition to their own health insurance,” said state Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who doubles as state fire marshal and was a key supporter of the bill. “This will, moving forward, help us recruit and help those families have as much normalcy as they can as they fight cancer.”

The bill (SB 426) requires providing a series of benefits to firefighters diagnosed with the types of cancer. It also would help firefighters pay their bills while undergoing cancer treatment by providing lump-sum payments of $25,000 upon diagnosis.

The Florida League of Cities asked DeSantis to veto the bill, pointing to questions about how local governments will pay for the increased benefits. “For those local governments, it is what it is,” Patronis said. “They will learn how to embrace this policy that is long overdue.”