Flanked by members of the Ohio Association of Professional Fire Fighters (OAPFF), Ohio Governor John Kasich signed the Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act (SB 27) into law, giving presumptive protections to fire fighters diagnosed with cancer.
The new law, named for a Beachwood, OH Local 2388 member diagnosed with brain cancer, the legislation presumes that the disease is a result of on-the-job exposure to a carcinogen. The law also states that cancer treatment for those fire fighters will be covered under workers compensation.
“Passing cancer presumption laws in every state and Canadian province has long been a top IAFF priority because it ensures that our members diagnosed with cancer will receive the treatment they need to get better,” says General President Harold Schaitberger. “I am proud of the determination our Ohio members have shown in order to pass this legislation in their state.”
“This great victory was truly a team effort,” says 8th District Vice President and former OAPFF President Mark Sanders. “OAPFF President Mike Taylor, Governmental Affairs Director Jim Carney and others made sure this legislation had the support it needed for success.”
The OAPFF has been diligently working to pass cancer presumption legislation for two decades. Several bills have been introduced over the years, but none earned as much support as the Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act.
The effort to pass this piece of legislation began in February 2015 when the OAPFF held a Summit on Fire Fighters’ Occupational Cancer, which included fire service leaders and state legislators. The summit earned significant media coverage and helped gather the initial support for workers compensation coverage for fire fighters diagnosed with cancer.
“When we started this process, we knew it would be difficult,” says OAPFF President Taylor. “But we were determined to pass something that would preserve the lives of our members.”
OAPFF Governmental Affairs Director Carney and others kept the momentum going, which hit a peak when Local 2388 member Michael Palumbo Jr. and his family testified about having brain cancer.
With state Senator Tom Patton (R) as its champion, SB 27 passed the Senate 32-1.
The state House amended the legislation to include language about the cancer-causing agents fire fighters are exposed to on the job. Thus, most cancers will be covered. The legislation passed 72-20.