House passes bill to give firefighters compensation for cancer treatment

COLUMBUS (WCMH) – The “firefighter cancer” bill passed by a wide margin by the Ohio House today. It offers workers’ compensation insurance for certain work-related cancers.

The bill takes the burden off of firefighters like Captain Mike Palumbo.

“I fight everyday for so many people, mostly my family and my kids, because I plan on being here,” said Palumbo, who works in Beachwood. “I’m not going anywhere. I am not giving up. I’m fighting for my wife and family.”

Senate Bill 27 is named after Capt. Palumbo, who is battling cancer.

Firefighters said it’s not just what they breathe at an emergency, or what is absorbed through the skin.

“Well, we are infinitely more exposed to a combination of many toxins and chemicals that have been proven to cause cancers at a higher rate in firefighters than a normal person,” said Mike Taylor with the Ohio Assoc. of Professional Firefighters.

This law asks lawmakers for workers’ compensation insurance for known carcinogens related to firefighting.

“There is a far higher rate of toxins burning in modern day material than in the past,” said Taylor.

Firefighter and paramedic Mark Rine is one of more than 140 Columbus firefighters battling cancer.  He said at present, firefighters have to prove their cancer is work related.

“Senate Bill 27 will actually flip-flop that, making it presumed, so then it would be on the Bureau of Workers’ Compensation to have the burden of proof to prove the firefighter did not get cancer as a result of the job,” said Rine.

The bill passed 72 to 20, but still needs concurrence in the Senate before it hits the governor’s desk.

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