Firefighters and first responders are a vital part of our communities. They exhibit exemplary dedication to protecting us and our loved ones from dangerous emergency situations. But as a result of their work, they deal with severe health consequences—a reality that we often do not realize.

This is why Senate Bill 27, which was passed by the Ohio General Assembly last December, is critical. In essence, the bill ensures that firefighters diagnosed with cancer resulting from their job are eligible for workers’ compensation. And cancer is not uncommon; firefighters often face situations that involve high exposure to damaging toxins and cancer-causing agents. These environments can place them at an elevated risk of developing the disease.

I am proud to have supported this piece of legislation that takes into account the voices of firefighters and local leaders. Senate Bill 27 mandates that all types of cancer and their appropriate treatments be covered under the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund. The bill’s measures apply to any firefighter, full-time or volunteer, who has worked for a minimum of six years on hazardous duty. A firefighter’s cancer will be considered work-related unless demonstrated otherwise by the employer.

The legislation is also referred to as the “Michael Louis Palumbo, Jr. Act” in honor of a Fire Captain in Beachwood. He was diagnosed with brain cancer as a result of his work, and is among the many firefighters and first responders who are battling the disease.

Senate Bill 27 was recently signed into law by Governor Kasich, and I look forward to its implementation. Now, the men and women who put themselves in harm’s way for their communities can receive the care and treatment they need. It is our duty and privilege to give back to them in this way.

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