Georgia's fire fighters are exposed on a daily basis to stress, smoke, heat and various toxic substances. As a result, they are far more likely to contract heart disease, lung disease and cancer than other workers. And as fire fighters increasingly assume the role of the nation’s leading providers of emergency medical services, they are also exposed to infectious diseases. Heart disease, lung disease, cancer and infectious disease are now among the leading causes of death and disability for fire fighters, and numerous studies have found that these are illnesses and occupational hazards of fire fighting.
In recognition of this linkage, 38 states have enacted "presumptive disability" laws, which presume that cardiovascular diseases, certain cancers and infectious diseases are job related for purposes of workers compensation and disability retirement unless proven otherwise.
No such law cover fire fighters in Georgia currently.
The PFFG is determined to correct this and our number one legislative priority is to advance a bill to provide a death and disability benefit, either under workers' comp or the states indemnification fund, for certian heart and lung conditions, infectious diseases and cancers.
Our arguments are:
Georgia's fire fighters regularly respond to HAZMAT incidents involving chemical, radiological and biological hazards. Working in such a hazardous environment, it is virtually impossible to precisely identify when and where a fire fighter contracted a disease.
Most states have acknowledged the occupational hazards attributed to fire fighting and have presumptive disability laws for fire fighters because it is so difficult for fire fighters to identify when and where they contracted an occupational disease.
Georgia's fire fighters do not have the benefit of a presumptive disability law. Instead they are faced with a burden of proof that is nearly impossible to meet and only in extraordinary cases do federal fire fighters, suffering from occupational diseases, receive fair and just compensation or retirement benefits.
It is only fair that Georgia should provide parity for fire fighters who are exposed to the same occupational hazards as other state's fire fighters. There is no legal or rational reason why Georgia's fire fighters do not have the same protections as fire fighters in 38 states.
Page Last Updated: Dec 01, 2014 (09:16:24)