Volunteer Firefighters Should Be Covered

State legislators will again discuss legislation to extend health benefits covering cancer care to volunteer firefighters.

The case for the bill is clear.

Twenty-three types of cancer have been linked to firefighting, while only lung cancer is a presumed cancer benefit for volunteer firefighters. Recently, state Sen. Catharine Young announced she has co-sponsored a bill that would expand presumptive cancer coverage for volunteer interior firefighters, noting that certain types of cancers, including cancers of the digestive, hematological, lymphatic, urinary, prostate, neurological, breast and reproductive systems, are a result of overexposure to smoke and toxic fumes. State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell, R-Jamestown, has joined 65 other co-sponsors of the legislation in the Assembly. A technical amendment caused a similar bill not to make to the Assembly floor for a vote in the 2016 legislative session.

Volunteer firefighters deserve the same protections as do paid firefighters. As long as there is no impact to local municipal or volunteer fire department budgets, this legislation should be approved.