Firefighter cancer bill passes appropriations committee in Florida Senate

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By: Samantha Mitchell | WTSP 10 News
April 11, 2019

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTSP) — The bill guaranteeing benefits to firefighters diagnosed with certain types of cancer has passed in the Florida Senate Appropriations committee.

This development came after Sonia Alcover's concern that it would not even reach the floor again. Alcover is the widow of a Tampa firefighter who served for 29 years before being diagnosed with and dying from brain cancer.

SB 426 is the fourth bill that has been proposed to advocate for firefighters battling with cancer. The CDC says firefighters have a 9% higher risk of being diagnosed with cancer and a 14% higher risk of dying from cancer than the general population.

Upon initial diagnosis of the 21 listed types of cancer in the bill, firefighters would be granted certain benefits, including a $25,000 cash payout. The firefighter would need to pass certain criteria in order to receive the payout and other benefits.

Some of the criteria include eligible firefighters being employed by his or her employer for at least five continuous years, not using tobacco products for at least five years and not being employed by another job that causes a "higher risk" for any cancer.

Along with the payout, the bill would make the firefighter's cancer treatment to be fully covered. It would also require employers to pay certain disability payments to a firefighter in the case of "total and permanent disability."

If the firefighter dies as a result of cancer or treatment, the death benefits would also be provided to the firefighter's beneficiary.

The bill would need to pass the Senate and House before being sent to Gov. Ron Desantis' desk for a signature.

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