Firefighters Bill Blazed Through the House to Governor Mead's Desk

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A bill streamlining the process for firefighters to receive disability was in its third and final reading in the House on Monday.

It's a bill our firefighters feel, they desperately need.

Firefighter Dane Andersen told News 13, “Firefighters have a much higher risk of cancer than persons in other occupations and it's unfortunately proven itself as reality in Casper.”

This is why firefighters are pulling for this bill. The bill provides an easy process for firefighters who fall ill to get their benefits.

Casper Fire Tim Cortez shared, “This bill would streamline that process and we could start getting benefits to folks immediately, versus years down the road.”

Cancers caused by heat, smoke, or radiation include: cardiovascular diseases, strokes, or any other disease that's a known effect of the job are all listed as diseases qualifying a firefighter for their benefits.

Andersen added, “A Harvard study has confirmed that firefighters, when we're at emergency scenes, are at least ten to a hundred times more likely to develop some sort of coronary condition.”

Byron Mathews reported, “In the state, we're looking at several firemen that have been diagnosed with job related cancers, so that's why this presumption is important today as well as tomorrow.”

Firefighters are not looking for a handout from the state, as no general fund dollars are allocated for this bill.

“We're not looking for additional benefits or payouts or anything like that. We're just looking to streamline the process and get the benefits to people,” said Cortez.

The bill also creates guidelines to make sure a firefighter doesn't start the job with one of the listed diseases.

Cortez continued, “We have policies and procedures that will actually make our profession better, meaning physicals, less tobacco use, things like that that will encourage our folks to be a little bit more healthy I think.”

Firefighters view this as a huge step for their profession in Wyoming.

The bill passed the House in a 53 to 7 vote and now heads to Governor Mead's desk.