Presumptive Health Initiative

You know the risks of the job, but not every threat is visible. Some diseases may take years to develop but are still tied to your service. The IAFF fights for presumptive disability laws that acknowledge the connection between firefighting and certain health conditions. The IAFF presumptive disability coverage database provides up-to-date information by state and province so you can quickly review what’s covered and where.


How do these laws benefit fire fighters and EMS workers?

The employee diagnosed with an occupational disease or condition covered by a presumptive disability law would be entitled to:

  • Payment of medical expenses
  • Disability retirement benefits
  • Workers’ comp benefits
  • Lost wages
  • Benefits for spouse/family as the situation allows

These benefits will vary between states and provinces, so fire fighters should be familiar with the workers’ compensation system that applies to them.

What are the limitations of presumptive disability laws?
  • Currently, federal fighters and many state and provincial fire fighters do not have presumptive laws in their jurisdictions. This means that these fire fighters must prove that any illness or condition that they contract is associated with their employment on a case-by-case basis.
  • Generally, presumptive laws apply to full-time, paid professional fire fighters; however, some states and provinces do include limited coverage for part-time and volunteer fire fighters.
  • Most states and provinces require a minimum number of years and service before a condition or illness is presumed to be associated with fire fighting.
  • Most states and provinces limit the types of cancers or diseases that are presumed to be associated with fire fighting.
  • Most states and provinces include rebuttable clauses that allow an employer to challenge that a condition or illness did not come from fire fighting but from some other causes. A classic example is if a fire fighter gets cancer but was also a smoker, the employer will rebut the presumption claiming that smoking was the primary cause of the cancer and not fire fighting.
  • Despite the presence of presumptive legislation, there is still no guarantee that a claim will be approved.
How can I bring presumptive disability laws to my state, province or municipality?
  • Scientific evidence continues to demonstrate the increased risk for heart disease, lung disease, cancer, infectious disease and behavioral health conditions among fire fighters and emergency medical responders.
  • The IAFF encourages its affiliates to work with state and provincial legislatures to enact presumptive laws and to update and enhance legislation where laws vary or provide limited benefits.
  • For assistance with obtaining presumptive legislation for your state, contact [email protected].