Ohio Gov. John Kasich signed firefighter cancer bill

COLUMBUS - Ohio is now the 35th state in the nation to have cancer presumption legislation for the state's firefighters.

Gov. John Kasich signed the bill into law today (Wednesday) just after noon.

There are limitations to the law, but for those diagnosed with specific cancer linked to their hazardous duty, they can now receive worker's compensation benefits and medical treatment paid.

Following the signing, Beachwood Mayor Merle Gorden released this statement:

"Our first responders are our front line of protection. I support Senate Bill 27 because it supports the men and women who risk their lives on a daily basis to keep our community safe, healthy and strong."

The bill, known as the "Michael Louis Palumbo Jr. Act," is named in honor of a fire department captain from Beachwood and Willowick who was diagnosed in 2015 with brain cancer

Ohio's firefighters have fought for this law more than two decades.

It was the third time then-Senator Tom Patton introduced cancer legislation, but for the first time, the bill was based on science.

Limitations include:

  • Firefighter must have been on hazardous duty for at least six years and been exposed to known toxins that cause cancer.

  • If it's determined the firefighter's cancer is linked to smoking or tobacco use, benefits may be denied.

  • No coverage if the firefighter is over age 70

  • No coverage if the firefighter has been away from hazardous duty more than 20 years.

Cancers are specific and must be linked back to chemicals that are known to cause cancer or probably cause cancer, as determined by IARC, the International Agency for research on cancer.

The Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters is very pleased with this bill.

What we're not sure of is whether any of these new rules will be retroactive to firefighters currently dealing with cancer. But it certainly will help those diagnosed in the future.

Senior Health Correspondent Monica Robins has been following this story for nearly a decade and is at the statehouse today.

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