Carbajal to Hold Press Conference Announcing Legislation to Ensure Fair Disability Benefits for Federal Firefighters
Lompoc, CA – Today, Rep. Salud Carbajal held a press conference announcing the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act of 2017, his most recent bill in Congress to ensure that federal firefighters receive the same access to job-related disability and retirement benefits as state, county and municipal firefighters. Rep. Carbajal will be joined by Vandenberg Professional Firefighters President, Charlie Martinez, at the Allan Hancock College Public Safety Training Complex.
“Fires do not discriminate between federal, state or municipal firefighters and neither should legislation that ensures access to benefits earned by firefighters. The burden of proof for federal firefighters to prove work related illnesses is extraordinarily high compared to their civilian counterparts,” said Rep. Carbajal. “This legislation would provide long overdue relief from this inequity and give our brave federal firefighters the benefits that they deserve.”
“Federal firefighters are exposed to the same dangers on a day to day basis as their state and municipal brothers and sisters,” said President Martinez. “It is time to put into law, cancer presumption benefits that put federal firefighters on an equal level as the dozens of other states who treat their firefighters with dignity and compassion when cancer comes to call.”
Under current federal law, to receive disability benefits, federal firefighters are required to pinpoint the precise incident or exposure that caused a disease for it to be considered job-related. This burden of proof is extraordinarily difficult for firefighters to meet because they work in such a wide variety of environments and conditions. Federal firefighters are regularly exposed to injury, disease and stress while protecting our national interests at military installations, nuclear facilities, VA hospitals and other federal facilities. Numerous studies have found heart disease, lung disease, certain cancers, and other infectious diseases to be occupational hazards of firefighting.
Forty states already recognize the link between certain serious diseases and the occupational hazards of firefighting and have enacted presumptive disability laws.