Arizona firefighters push for expanded workers' comp insurance

Posted at 8:08 PM, Apr 25, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-26 14:18:09-04

Arizona firefighters are asking for help paying their medical bills when they fall sick with certain cancers and other illnesses.

The Professional Fire Fighters of Arizona are pushing for a significant expansion to workers' compensation insurance to cover nine cancers, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, myeloma, melanoma, and certain heart conditions.  Firefighters say research shows the diseases can be triggered by exposure to toxic chemicals, smoke, and hazardous materials encountered on the job.

"Cancer comes after repeated exposures," said Goodyear Firefighter Gilbert Aguirre, a leukemia survivor. "It's not like going into a fire and coming out saying, 'I just hurt my back;  I just injured my back, or I just injured my knee.' [It] doesn't work that way."

Two firefighter workers' compensation bills, HB 2161 and HB 2410, easily passed the Arizona House, but they stalled in the Senate. Senators have debated whether to set time limits to file claims.