After years of dedicated lobbying by the Professional Fire Fighters of Utah (PFFU), fire fighters across the state have protections in place in the event they develop one of four types of cancer – mesothelioma, pharynx, esophagus or lung.

“Carcinogens can survive in the air and on our gear long after a fire goes out,” says PFFU President Jack Tidrow. “Because we, as fire fighters, are exposed to these cancer-causing toxins on a daily basis, we are at greater risk of getting cancer than most other professions. The PFFU is proud to have this new law in place for our members with cancer and can get the medical treatment they need.”

SB 135 modifies the Utah Occupational Disease Act to presume that fire fighters who develop one of the four cancers contracted the disease because of on-the-job exposure to carcinogens. But before submitting workers compensation claims, Utah fire fighters must have been on the job for eight years and must have been tobacco free for eight years.

“Science has always been on our side, but it was getting the support of all interested parties,” says Tidrow. “This time, we had nearly everyone on board.”

The support for SB 135 included Workers Compensation Fund Director Dennis Lloyd, the Utah Insurance Department, Utah Medical Association, the Utah AFL-CIO and all of the state’s fire service organizations.

Flanked by the bill’s chief sponsor, Senator Karen Mayne (D), Tidrow and other PFFU members, Governor Gary Herbert signed the bill on April 8.