The U.S. Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs approved the Federal Firefighter Fairness Act (S 1116) May 25 and unanimously voted the bill out of committee. The bill would provide automatic workers’ compensation benefits for federal fire fighters diagnosed with occupational cancer. The Committee’s advancement of the bill brings the 16th District even closer to having the cancer presumption benefits that protect nearly every other local and state fire fighter across the nation.
“We have to get this to the floor of the U.S. Senate for a vote. Our IAFF applauds the committee members for unanimously approving our legislation to give automatic workers’ compensation benefits to federal fire fighters with cancer,” says General President Edward Kelly. “Wednesday’s actions send a clear message that it is unacceptable for the government to deny our federal brothers and sisters the benefits that they deserve. Medical studies and our own experiences prove the undeniable link between firefighting and cancer. The IAFF is grateful for the leadership of Senator Tom Carper and Senator Susan Collins in providing the same protections to federal fire fighters that are given to local and state fire fighters in 49 states. We urge the Senate to send this bill to President Biden’s desk and end the bureaucratic hurdles that hurt our brothers and sisters battling cancer.”
The Senate’s move to advance the Federal Firefighter Fairness Act comes just weeks after the U.S. House of Representatives passed the bill by a strong margin of 288-131. The bill, in its latest form, would provide automatic workers’ compensation benefits to federal fire fighters with at least five years of service who develop cancer either while working or within 10 years of their retirement. The bill also establishes a process for the Secretary of Labor to add medical conditions to the list of presumptive illnesses and directs future studies on connections between firefighting and cancer.
The IAFF is calling on Senate leadership to bring the Federal Firefighter Fairness Act to a final vote and work with leaders in the House of Representatives to send the bill to President Joe Biden for signature.