In May of 2009 a 16 year veteran of the Sterling Heights, MI Fire Department went to his doctor. Being a firefighter he was obviously healthy and in shape, but he was feeling constantly tired and worn out. By the end of that week Chris Slezak was diagnosed with leukemia and receiving chemotherapy.
Was this caused by 16 years of running into carcinogen filled burning buildings? Slezak believes so. Because there is no way to prove the cause of the cancer he does not qualify for WC under Michigan Law.
Lawmakers are trying to make a change of this. Under a new bill recently approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee ski, brain, and kidney cancers are among those assumed cause by smoke and burning debris that firefighters encounter in the line of duty. The only thing that will disqualify a firefighter is if they were a smoker within 10 years of their diagnosis.
The problem now becomes will counties and municipalities face the steep rise in WC premiums should the Senate floor approve this bill? In most of the other 33 states that have enacted such a bill they have only seen roughly a 1% increase in premiums.
What are your opinions? This should be more about fairness than money in my opinion. These brave men and women run into buildings while everyone is running out. The are public servants. Most people who get into this line of work do not do it for the glory, or the money. They do it because there is something inside them that says I was meant to look out for the members of my community. They risk life and limb and should be compensated for injuries and illness received. I for one agree with the bill and like the disclosure that if you were a smoker then you could have brought this on yourself. Let’s not make the people that keep us safe suffer more than they should for putting themselves on the line for us. This story in its entirety can be found on lansingstatejournal.com.