Firefighters opposing changes to cancer protection law

Firefighters opposing changes to cancer protection law

(WTOL) - It has barely been on the books, but major changes could be made to the firefighters' cancer protection bill.

State lawmakers approved the firefighter cancer bill last year and Governor Kasich just signed it into law in January.

Many saw the law as a victory for firefighters' health and safety, but many firefighters are worried that coverage could unfairly be taken away.

Senate Bill 27 provided worker's comp coverage for firefighters who get sick with cancer while on the job. The law took effect last month.

But firefighter unions across the state said House Bill 27, the workers compensation budget, would allow fire departments to deny cancer coverage if the firefighter didn't wear their protective gear properly.

Democratic House member Michelle Lepore-Hagan said it's "horrifying" that some GOP lawmakers would make it harder for first responders and their families to get the help they need.

Tuesday morning, several firefighters will go to the state house to oppose the bill. Some will testify against it.

Doug Stern, a key member of the Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters, said supporters of the bill don't understand the science of fighting fires.

"I could wear my fire gear 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. I could wear it in the fire house, I could wear it in the fire trucks. I could wear it on my way home. But when I go to that structure fire and enter that building and that smoke is down upon me, I'm still going to be exposed just the same as if I wasn't wearing it properly," Stern said.

Toledo Fire spokesman Sterling Rahe said the department did not want to comment on the proposed changes referring us to Local 92, the firefighters union.

WTOL 11 has not heard back on our request for comment from the Local 92.

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