Julie Kushner

State Senator

Julie Kushner

Deputy President Pro Tempore

Working Together for Progress

May 21, 2021

Senator Kushner Leads Senate Passage of Bill Studying Cancer Relief Benefits for Firefighters

On Thursday evening, State Senator Julie Kushner (D-Danbury), Senate Chair of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, led the Senate’s passage of legislation that will study cancer relief benefits for firefighters in the state. As firefighters risk their lives daily to protect and save their communities, they deserve proper benefits for conditions including cancer developed in their line of work, something this bill will examine.

“On the day of New Haven Firefighter Ricardo Torres Jr.’s funeral, it is a poignant time for us to take up the subject of firefighter safety and care,” said Sen. Kushner. “We need to better examine the outstanding needs of firefighters given the sacrifices they make for our safety. Firefighters who inhale smoke and dangerous chemicals in the act of saving others’ lives are more susceptible to cancers. Their selfless work to protect us all deserves adequate support.”

Senate Bill 141, “An Act Establishing A Task Force To Study Cancer Relief Benefits For Firefighters,” establishes a task force to examine the adequacy of the current firefighters cancer relief program and the possibility of providing additional resources including workers’ compensation and other benefits to firefighters diagnosed with cancer acquired as a result of occupational exposure to noxious fumes or poisonous gases. Task force members will include but are not limited to chairs and ranking members of the Labor and Public Employees Committee, experts in workers compensation and cancer research, a representative of a firefighters’ labor organization and representatives of municipalities with paid and volunteer fire departments. This task force will submit a report to the General Assembly no later than January 1, 2022.

A study by the National Institute for Occupational Safety focused on firefighter cancer concluded that firefighters face a 9 percent increase in cancer diagnoses and a 14 percent increase in cancer-related deaths compared to the general population of the United States. Breathing in smoke and other chemicals during fighting fires and other exposure to contaminants have been directly correlated to various forms of cancer and other long-term illnesses.

This legislation passed the Labor and Public Employees Committee unanimously.