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  • Writer's pictureJohn Larrimer

Ohio Denies Workers’ Comp to Firefighters

Firefighters put their lives on the line for us on a daily basis. Therefore, there is absolutely no excuse for shortchanging them on the benefits they have earned. Unfortunately, according to The Daily Free Press, that is exactly what appears to be happening in the case of firefighters when it comes to line-of-duty-related cancer risk.

In the article, it is reported that several studies have produced proof that firefighters have a much higher risk of developing certain types of cancer than the average person. The piece also includes a story first reported in The Pew Charitable Trusts’ Stateline and The Huffington Post concerning a firefighter who was diagnosed at age 30 with stage 4 melanoma.

Reportedly, the firefighter had none of the common risk factors associated with melanoma, such as family history, fair skin or blistering sunburns. However, he had fought over 200 fires, according to the report. Now, it has been three years since the firefighter was diagnosed with melanoma and two things are clear to him:

  1. He knows he is dying

  2. He knows he does not want to spend what is left of his life fighting for the workers’ comp benefits he has so far been denied

Sadly for the firefighter, although there are three dozen states in the US that provide workers’ comp to firefighters who developed cancer in the line of duty, Ohio, where he resides, is not one of them. Unbelievably, to collect workers’ comp for cancer in Ohio, the firefighter would have to prove that a specific fire out of the more than 200 that he fought caused him to develop melanoma. Obviously, this is impossible, and the state knows this.

Unfortunately, because the Ohio Bureau of Workers’ Compensation estimates that changing the law to enable firefighters to collect workers’ compensation for cancer risk would cost around $75.3 million, such a bill will probably not pass anytime soon. This is a travesty and needs to change.

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