Thanks to steady lobbying efforts by the Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics of North Carolina (PFFPNC), the state budget includes the Fire Fighters Fighting Cancer Act of 2021, which creates a cancer fund to assist fire fighters diagnosed with cancer with the costs of treatment and provide a disability benefit to those who can no longer work as fire fighters.
“We have been fighting for this day for the past 10 years,” says PFFPNC President Scott Mullins. “Now our members who are diagnosed with cancer no longer have to depend on health insurance alone to help them through their treatment. We are thankful to everyone who supported our cause.”
The PFFPNC initially advocated for the passage of legislation that would have created a presumption through the workers’ compensation system. But in the last year, the concept of creating a fund within the state budget earmarked for fire fighters with cancer gained bipartisan support.
The Fire Fighters Fighting Cancer Act of 2021 was incorporated into the state budget. General President Edward Kelly and 12th District Vice President Walt Dix traveled to North Carolina to meet with state legislators for one final push to ensure its passage.
“Cancer continues to be the leading cause of line-of-duty deaths among our members. We must do everything we can to keep our members healthy and I was proud to do my part,” says General President Kelly. “Now our North Carolina members will have the protections they need if they get sick on the job.”
“Under the toughest of conditions, our PFFPNC officers never gave up and moved this critically important legislation over the finish line” says District Vice President Dix. “They did exceptional work on behalf of their members.”
The provisions of the Fire Fighters Cancer Act provide fire fighters diagnosed with cancer and who have been on the job for at least five years with a lump sum of $25,000. A second $25,000 is paid if the same fire fighter is diagnosed with a second type of cancer. Additionally, the fund will pay for medical costs up to $12,000 annually. And should the effect of the cancer prevent a fire fighter from returning to the job, a disability benefit (75 percent of the fire fighter salary) is available.
Benefits will begin January 1, 2022. Delaware is now the only state with no presumptive laws in place for fire fighters.