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Arizona group sends letter to city leaders pushing for firefighter change

(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX — Cities across Arizona have denied firefighters worker’s compensation as they battle cancer believed to be caused by their jobs.

But with momentum at the state level, a handful of municipalities have started to change course.

On Tuesday, the League of Arizona Cities and Towns sent a letter to cities’ top political leaders.

They wanted to provide an update on the latest conversations that had been discussed during ad-hoc committee meetings at the Arizona State Senate.

“It’s important for us because we are the representative of those cities on this panel, that they know what the panel is doing and also the direction it’s going,” Deputy Director Tom Belshe told KTAR News 92.3 FM on Wednesday .

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns is a municipal league that provides a link among the 90 incorporated cities and towns in Arizona. The league is the only organization that connects every municipality.

“We don’t insert ourselves in individual cases,” Belshe said. “We do provide general information to all of our cities and towns about the statute.”

Belshe said he did get responses from cities but didn’t say from where.

“Basically what we received was, ‘Thank you for the information, we’re very excited to work with you with preventive measures, the reminder of the state statute and the policy direction we’re trying to take,” Belshe said.

The league says there has yet to be any negative feedback from the letter.

Goodyear and Casa Grande, which have both recently denied firefighters with cancer worker’s compensation, denied to comment on the letter or provide a statement about what they hope to see change going forward.

The League of Arizona Cities and Towns was clear to share what they want to see accomplished at the state level.

“Prevention, early detection and making sure they [firefighters] aren’t fighting two fronts,” Belshe added. “That we make the system easy for them.”

They hope to accomplish those three things with funding.

The league wasn’t ready to say cancer prevention and firefighters treatment could be paid for by the state budget.

“What we’re talking about is finding possibly some kind of revenue source that reflects this as a statewide issue,” Belshe said.

Thursday to be the final ad-hoc committee meeting led by state Sen. Paul Boyer.

Medical professionals, the League of Arizona Cities and Towns and others are expected to announce recommendations during the meeting for the upcoming legislative session.

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