New Michigan law expands benefits for firefighters with cancer

A new Michigan law makes more firefighters with cancer eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.

Many firefighters in active service already qualify for wage loss and medical benefits if they get certain types of cancer presumed to have been caused by hazards on the job. Legislation signed by Gov. Gretchen Whitmer this past week extends eligibility to forest fire officers and fire/crash officers at military airfields.

Under the law, an application for benefits from the state’s First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund suspends the employee’s workers’ compensation claim against his or her employer.

Jeff Roberts, president of the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs, said many people may not realize the health effects that can occur years later due to exposure to contaminants and carcinogens from fighting fires and rescuing people. He thanked lawmakers and the governor for expanding eligibility for the fund.

The bill was sponsored by Republican Rep. Sue Allor of Wolverine.