Governor Eric Greitens Wednesday announced he’s supporting legislation he says would help firefighters get better medical care. It’s a departure from other Republican heads of state to boost workers’ compensation for unionized workers.
The governor appeared at a news conference in St. Louis to endorse a proposal that would shift the burden away from a firefighter to prove cancer is job-related.
During the conference, Harold Schaitberger, General President of the International Association of Fire Fighters said the legislation would boost support for fire fighters who fall victim to work related cancers.
“This simply provides the recognition, the protection and the benefits to make sure our families and the livelihoods of any firefighter who develops cancers from their hazardous duty include medical care, temporary wage replacement, permanent disability and death compensation to their dependents,” said Schaitberger.
The measure is sponsored by Republican House member Nick Schroer of O’Fallon. Schaitberger said it would formally acknowledge the cancer risks firefighters face. “(It) changes the current law to recognize the scientifically proven connection between the work firefighters do and the cancers and disease that they unfortunately incur.”
At the same new conference, Governor Greitens noted research has proven a connection exists between the disease and the fumes and chemicals from fires. “There is a scientifically proven link between firefighters and cancer,” Greitens said.
The study Greitens referred to is from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health, and the Centers for Disease Control.
The research conducted by the two federal agencies released in 2015 showed that fire fighters have higher rates of certain types of cancer than the general U.S. population. It also revealed that the chance of contracting or dying from cancer or leukemia increased with the amount of time spent at fires.
KSDK reports that more than thirty states have already enacted similar legislation to the measure proposed by Representative Shroer.