U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández
From the Office of U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández:
WASHINGTON, D.C. — U.S. Rep. Teresa Leger Fernández voted Wednesday for and the House passed the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act “to strengthen these brave first responders’ access to workers’ compensation benefits after contracting cancer or other illnesses from doing their job”.
This legislation will help ensure that these benefits cover the full range of occupational hazards faced by the nation’s 15,000 federal firefighters.
“Every day, our federal firefighters put themselves in harm’s way to save lives and protect our communities but unfortunately, they don’t always receive the healthcare that they deserve. It is our responsibility to provide them with the support they need,” Leger Fernández said. “It is simply wrong that the federal firefighters are not guaranteed the care and compassion as most state firefighters when it comes to health coverage which is why I supported this legislation to streamline critical benefits for our brave first responders.”
Firefighters are at high risk of contracting occupational illnesses through routine exposure to smoke, heat, and toxic substances. While many states make it easier for firefighters to access benefits with a presumption that certain illnesses are work-related, the federal workers’ compensation system currently places the burden of proof on sick firefighters and their families.
The Federal Firefighters Fairness Act will remove these unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles for approximately 15,000 federal firefighters. This legislation will establish an automatic presumption of work-related illness for a range of cancers and other illnesses. Additionally, it empowers the Secretary of Labor to further expand this list based on scientific evidence.
The Federal Firefighters Fairness Act has been endorsed by the International Association of Fire Chiefs, the International Association of Fire Fighters, and the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).