Firefighters are among those who help people most. They put out fires, help with rescue missions and educate communities on safety.
When they do their jobs, however, they're putting themselves at serious risk. Even if they're not in an acute accident, they may later develop chronic diseases that could make their lives uncomfortable or difficult to live.
Did you know that firefighters have a higher rate of lung problems and heart conditions than other workers? Presently, workers' compensation won't necessarily cover these illnesses, because it could be hard to link them to the work environment. However, lawmakers have been approached by firefighters who are asking for the Firefighter's Protection Act to move forward. This act would provide compensation such as wage protection and health coverage, for those diagnosed with conditions such as lung cancer, respiratory diseases and posttraumatic stress disorder. The act would affect Montana, but it has nationwide implications since other states could quickly follow suit.
In 2018, the Firefighter Cancer Registry Act was signed by the president, which makes it a requirement for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to keep a registry of firefighters who develop cancer. This is not the first time that there have been signs of national support for firefighters. The Senate previously passed a bill to increase firefighters' wages and access to health benefits, but it did not pass through the House. Volunteer firefighters are also still unable to access workers' compensation benefits despite the great benefits they provide to communities.
As a firefighter, your life is important. If you're hurt, don't hesitate to reach out for assistance as you seek entitlement to Social Security Disability benefits and, when possible, workers' compensation benefits. The process of seeking approval for these benefits can be cumbersome without legal guidance.