FEDERAL FIRE FIGHTER PRESUMPTIVE DISABILITY
The IAFF supports H.R. 3718, the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act, and encourages Members of Congress to cosponsor the legislation.
Fire fighters are exposed on a daily basis to stress, smoke, heat and various toxic substances. As a result, fire fighters are far more likely to contract heart disease, lung disease and cancer than other workers. And as fire fighters increasingly assume the role of the nation’s leading providers of emergency medical services, they are also exposed to infectious diseases. Heart disease, lung disease, cancer and infectious disease are now among the leading causes of death and disability for fire fighters, and numerous studies have found that these illnesses are occupational hazards of fire fighting.
In recognition of this link, forty-two states have enacted “presumptive disability” laws, which presume that cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and certain infectious diseases contracted by fire fighters are job-related for purposes of workers’ compensation and disability retirement unless proven otherwise. No such law covers fire fighters employed by the federal government.
Under the Federal Employee Compensation Act (FECA), federal fire fighters must be able to pinpoint the precise incident or exposure that caused a disease in order for it to be considered job-related. This burden of proof is extraordinarily difficult for fire fighters to meet because they respond to a wide variety of emergency calls, constantly working in different environments under different conditions. As a result, very few cases of occupational disease contracted by fire fighters have been deemed to be service-connected.
H.R. 3718, the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act
The Federal Firefighters Fairness Act would create a rebuttable presumption
On December 12, 2013, H.R. 3718 was introduced
in the U.S. House of Representatives and referred to the House Committee on
Education and the Workforce.