Presumptive Health Initiative
A presumptive disability law links a particular occupation with a disease or condition that has been
shown to be a hazard associated with that occupation. As a result of this linkage, if an individual employed in the
occupation covered by the presumption contracts a disease or condition that is specified in the presumptive law, then that
disease or condition is presumed to have come from that occupation. In this case, the burden of proof shifts from the employee
to the employer to demonstrate that the condition was not in fact associated with the occupation but with another cause.
For fire fighters and emergency medical responders, scientific evidence has demonstrated an increased risk for heart
disease, lung disease, cancer, and infectious diseases. At this time, most of the United States and Canadian provinces
have some form of presumptive law that applies to fire fighters and emergency response personnel. These laws vary
greatly between states and provinces.
The IAFF Division of Occupational Health, Safety & Medicine has
developed an information database of the current presumptive disability provisions in the United States and Canada.