After more than a decade of lobbying efforts, the Professional Fire Fighters of Idaho (PFFI) is close to passing its cancer presumption bill. HB 554 passed the state House 65-3. It is now in the state Senate Commerce and Human Resources Committee.
If passed, the legislation will change Idaho’s workers’ compensation law to presume that 11 cancers are job-related fire fighters. However, the bill does create an exception for any fire fighter who smokes or lives with someone who smokes.
“This is so important for our members who are exposed to carcinogens on the job every day,” says Professional Fire Fighters of Idaho Executive Vice President Rob Shoplock. “Our members should have the peace of mind to know that should they contract one of these cancers, treatment will be available to them.”
And it is not just the initial treatment that is important. One fire fighter testified about his experience with esophageal cancer. He said that even after treatment, he needed time to regain his strength to meet the physical demands of the job before he could return to work. He also explained that he was still experiencing the side effects of the damage caused by the disease.
This year’s legislative session is scheduled to end in early April. PFFI leaders believe that leaves enough time to move the bill to the governor’s desk.