Georgia firefighters sharply rebuked Gov. Nathan Deal on Wednesday after he vetoed legislation to help them get workers’ compensation benefits if they could provide “a preponderance” of evidence that their work caused cancer.
“While paying lip-service to firefighters, Gov. Deal and the cities and counties of this state have turned their backs on Georgia’s firefighters and their families,” said Jim Daws, president of the Professional Fire Fighters of Georgia. “They are telling firefighters that if they contract cancer from their jobs protecting the public, that they are strictly on their own.”
Firefighters say they are exposed to carcinogens through the burning of newer materials used in the construction of homes, such as synthetic fibers and plastic.
House Bill 216 proposed to grant workers’ compensation benefits to firefighters who have been diagnosed with fire service-related cancers. Firefighters applying for the benefit would have had to demonstrated exposure to a known carcinogen as a result of their occupation.
Otherwise, state law considers cancer an “ordinary disease of life,” disqualifying it from claims.