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Should firefighters have to prove cancer is from battling fires?

It is no surprise that firefighting is a dangerous job in Aurora, but, just like everyone else, Colorado firefighters are entitled to federal and state protections. Just like employees in any other field, a professional firefighter can receive workers' compensation for any injuries or illnesses he or she sustains on the job. As individuals who risk so much to keep us safe, there is no reason why we shouldn't give them the same benefits as everyone else.

In that vein, one state has made a move to make it easier for firefighters to obtain workers' compensation for fire-related cancers. While cancer and other illnesses can make an individual eligible for workers' compensation, employees must prove that there was something at work that caused the illness. This can be very difficult, even when there is a high chance that something in the work environment is responsible. For firefighters who are constantly exposed to carcinogens, smoke and other deadly substances, it may be even more difficult.

But legislators in Michigan are trying to remedy that situation by listing 10 cancers that, if a firefighter is diagnosed with one, he or she will automatically be eligible for workers' compensation. While this may not be happening in Colorado, if it works well, it might make its way west. Currently, the bill is still in the Senate, but it has already cleared the Senate Judiciary Committee with a vote of 3 to 0.

Workers' compensation is not a trivial benefit and could be absolutely essential income for someone recovering from cancer. If there is a way to simplify the process without exposing the workers' compensation system to too many fraudulent applications, wouldn't it make sense to do so?

Source: Detroit Free Press, "Firefighters diagnosed with cancer could get workers' comp under proposal," Robin Erb, April 23, 2013

If you would like more information about workers' compensation and Colorado firefighters, please visit our website.

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