State Representative Tom Patton (R-Strongsville) today applauded Governor Kasich’s signing of Senate Bill 27, legislation that creates presumptive eligibility for workers’ compensation for firefighters diagnosed with cancer. Rep. Patton sponsored the legislation during the 131st General Assembly as a member of the Ohio Senate.
Due to their line of work, firefighters are more susceptible to developing cancer, as they are regularly exposed to high levels of toxins and carcinogens. According to sponsor testimony, studies have shown that more than half of firefighters in the United States are likely to develop cancer.
“Today marks a huge victory for Ohio’s firefighting community. This legislation ensures that this state has a mechanism in place to help firefighters who—due to the nature of their service to the public—are exposed to a vast number of carcinogens and therefore, suffer from an increased risk of certain types of cancers,” said Rep. Patton. “Ohio’s laws should reflect our employers’ responsibility to ensure as safe a work environment as is reasonably possible. Ohio’s firefighters have no unrealistic expectations regarding this, no firefighter wants to need the protections of this bill, but at the same time, no firefighter should be without the protections of this bill.”
Under the new law, all types of cancers and their treatments would be covered under the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation and the Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund for any firefighter, full-time or volunteer, who has worked for at least six years on hazardous duty. A firefighter's cancer will be presumed to be work-related unless the employer can demonstrate otherwise, making it easier for firefighters to receive the treatment they need.