State Laws Establishing Presumption of Firefighter Cancer as a Result of Duty-Related Exposure
Many states have laws establishing a presumption that certain types of cancer contracted by firefighters are the result of duty-related exposure. These laws typically allow the families of firefighters who contract these types of cancer to receive compensation in various forms, including through enhanced retirement/pension benefits, workers compensation and/or death/disability benefits.
Most state laws stipulate various conditions that must be met in order for the cancer presumption to be valid, including that the firefighter have served for a certain length of time, that the firefighter have refrained from using tobacco products, that the firefighter have had a physical examination upon joining the department, etc. These conditions are intended to protect the state or department (depending on which entity is responsible for paying the benefit) from having to compensate families of firefighters whose cancer was not contracted as a result of duty-related exposure.
Not all state presumptive laws extend coverage to volunteer firefighters. In some cases, state laws explicitly extend coverage only to full-time paid firefighters. In other cases, state laws apply exclusively to benefits that only full-time paid firefighters receive.
The First Responder Center for Excellence maintains a web page listing cancer presumption laws in different states. Below are states that the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) has identified as having laws that explicitly cover volunteer firefighters.
Volunteer firefighters may be eligible under presumption laws in other states even though the law does not explicitly extend coverage to volunteers.
Several of the NVFC’s state member associations are working on cancer presumption legislation at the state level. For information about these efforts, please contact the member association in your state directly.