Each and every day, firefighters put themselves in harm’s way for the sake of our communities and families. Though we may readily appreciate these brave men and women, how often do we consider the risks and perilous health consequences they face as a result of their work?

This past December, the Ohio General Assembly passed Senate Bill 27, a critical piece of legislation that ensures firefighters diagnosed with cancer as a result of their job are eligible for workers’ compensation. By the nature of their work, firefighters experience high exposure to damaging toxins and cancer-causing agents that place them at an increased risk of developing the disease. Providing first responders with the care and treatment they need is both urgent and imperative.

I worked closely with the firefighters and local leaders on this bill and am proud of the compromise we reached. 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 provisions apply to any firefighter, full-time or volunteer, who has worked for a minimum of six years on hazardous duty, and a firefighter’s cancer will be considered work-related unless demonstrated otherwise by the employer.

Importantly, Senate Bill 27 is also referred to as the “Michael Louis Palumbo, Jr. Act” in honor of a Fire Captain in Beachwood who was diagnosed with brain cancer as a result of his work. He is among the many firefighters who are battling the disease.

Senate Bill 27 was recently signed into law by Governor Kasich, and now the men and women who daily put their health and lives on the line can access proper care and treatment for their diagnoses.

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