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Lawmakers:Help Firefighters With Cancer

Wikimedia Commons
The Florida Channel
Leon County Judge John Cooper on June 30, 2022, in a screen grab from The Florida Channel.

House and Senate members have outlined legislation aimed at creating a presumption that firefighters diagnosed with cancer got the disease while in the line of duty.

The bills (SB 456 and HB 345), filed last week by Sen. Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, Rep. Heather Fitzenhagen, R-Fort Myers, and Rep. Frank Artiles, R-Miami, would shift a burden of proof in resolving issues about how firefighters got cancer. The burden of proof would go from the employee to the employer.

Fitzenhagen said science has proven firefighters are at a much greater risk for cancer than the general population, given their hazardous work environment.

"In the gear that firefighters wear, there are a lot of places where carcinogens can get in touch with the skin, even though they are wearing protective gear,'' she said. "Typically, those places are around the neck."

Supporters say the legislation is necessary because employees are being let go after using up sick leave and short-term disability.

The bills will be considered during the 2016 legislative session, which starts in January.