FRANKFORT – Surviving family members of cancer-stricken firefighters are a step closer to qualifying for government-paid survivor benefits after the state Senate approved Senate Bill 195 by a 37-0 vote on Thursday. It wouldn’t matter if the firefighter was a professional or volunteer.
“Exposure to dangerous carcinogens is a continuous health hazard to these brave men and women who protect our local communities and cities,” said Sen. Albert Robinson, R-London.
SB 195 is sponsored by Robinson and Sen. Christian McDaniel, R-Taylor Mill.
Under the legislation, the firefighter would have to be 65 years old or younger at the time of their passing and had been on the job for at least five consecutive years. Their cancer could not be attributable to a preexisting condition or tobacco – they cannot have used tobacco in the 10 years preceding diagnosis.
The death benefit would also be $80,000 and be paid out of the state’s general fund. Estimates have been made of one to four deaths per year that might be determined to be attributed to the conditions addressed in SB 195.
Similar legislation has been introduced for the last five years, and Sen. Morgan McGarvey, D-Louisville, introduced Senate Bill 138 earlier in this session that would do the same thing as SB 195. “It should not go unnoticed that the bill did not get in this form without a lot of hard work” by McGarvey, said Senate Minority Floor Leader Ray S. Jones II, D-Pikeville.
SB 195 now goes to the state House of Representatives for consideration.