Washington, D.C. – On December 19, Sen. John Kerry (D-Mass.) introduced the Federal Fire Fighters Fairness Act (S.1845), which will make it easier for federal firefighters to prove that heart and lung disease, certain cancers, and infectious diseases are job-related. The legislation is identical to H.R.2163, introduced in the House of Representatives in June. S.1845 would provide thousands of federal firefighters with protections similar to those that cover most municipal firefighters.
Thirty-eight states have heart and lung presumption laws for firefighters; 20 states recognize cancer presumption; and eight recognize certain infectious diseases as being directly related to firefighting and emergency medical activities.
Currently, federal firefighters who contract heart and lung ailments or a range of cancers and infectious diseases known to be the result of stress and exposures to toxic substances at fires and other incidents must bear the burden of proving that these life-threatening illnesses were incurred on the job. This legislation would place the onus on the employer to prove that the illness is not job-related.