Carbajal to Announce Bill Expanding Disability Benefits for Federal Firefighters
Santa Barbara, April 23, 2019
Tomorrow, Rep. Salud Carbajal (CA-24) will hold a press conference announcing the introduction of H.R. 1174, the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act of 2019, his bipartisan bill to ensure that federal firefighters receive the same access to job-related disability and retirement benefits as state, county, and municipal firefighters.
“When a fire breaks out it means all hands on deck to protect our communities, regardless of whether you are a federal, state or municipal firefighter,” said Rep. Carbajal. “The threshold for federal firefighters to prove work-related illness is much higher than their civilian counterparts here in California and around the nation. This legislation gives our brave federal firefighters the healthcare benefits that they deserve for putting themselves in harm’s way to protect us all.”
“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 place 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.
California was the first state to pass a firefighter’s presumptive illness law in 1982. Just last week, Montana and Florida passed the same law making it 48 out of 50 states with health presumption laws for state and local firefighters. These laws do not cover federal firefighters.