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Committee offers recommendations for Arizona firefighter protections

(KTAR News Photo/Ali Vetnar)

PHOENIX — Firefighters filled the Arizona state Senate on Thursday where leaders announced legislative recommendations to better address cancer protections and worker’s compensation claims.

Throughout the third and final ad-hoc meeting, nearly 10 firefighters from across the state shared their personal testimonies dealing with occupational cancer and how they tried to pay for it while battling worker’s compensation claims.

If it wasn’t them sharing their stories, it was a family member survived by them.

“While this committee is interested in minimizing containment risk and exposure for first responders, yes indeed we are not going to leave anyone behind,” State Sen. Paul Boyer said during the meeting.

Boyer led the ad-hoc committee. While offering the recommendations from the committee, he made it clear he hopes the items fix whatever he did try and accomplish with his 2017 bill.

Among the recommendations are mandated early cancer screenings, statewide availability of equipment to prevent cancer, independent medical examiner reform and the establishment of a fund that would provide money to offset costs for cities.

“Those of you who have been given a cancer diagnosis, I thought in 2017 we were done and you were taken care of,” Boyer said. “We are not done, but we will make it right.”

State Sen. Heather Carter took the podium in front of the committee to not only address the legislative changes needed, but also to thank the firefighters and promise change.

“I stand committed with the other law makers that serve on the committee, Sen. Boyer and Sen. (Rebecca) Rios, to make sure that those recommendations make it across the finish line this next legislative session,” Carter said.

With state leaders and firefighters represented in numbers, it is possible there will be changes coming to the current legislation that protects firefighters benefits who battle occupational cancer.

The next legislative session starts next month.

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