NYS Volunteer firefighter Gap Cancer Bill Passes Both Houses

June 20th - The Revised Gap Cancer Bill has passed both NYS Legislative chambers, and will now go to the Governor for signature. State Senate Bill S1411B - "New York State Volunteer firefighter gap coverage cancer disability benefits act"  . The act would provide Volunteer Firefighter Gap Coverage disability benefits who contract certain forms of cancer. If signed by the Governor, this act would take effective on January 1, 2019.
The Association wants to thank all those members, firefighters,families and others who took the time to sign petitions at "Fire 2017" call, email, or used the FASNY website "Take Action"  portal to contact their elected officials.

=== Text of the Legislation below ===

New York State Volunteer firefighter gap coverage cancer disability benefits act

TITLE OF BILL:  An act to amend the general municipal law and the tax law, in relation to the "New York state volunteer firefighter gap cover- age cancer disability benefits act"
To create the New York State Volunteer Firefighter Gap Coverage Cancer Disability Benefits Act to provide volunteer firefighters who contract certain forms of cancer with enhanced disability benefits.
Section 1. State that this act shall be knows and cited as the "New York State Volunteer Firefighter Gap overage Cancer Disability Benefits Act."
Section 2. Amends the general municipal law by adding a new section 205-CC to require that any political subdivision liable for benefits provided under the volunteer firefighters' benefit law shall provide and maintain an enhanced cancer disability benefit insurance program for each eligible volunteer firefighter.
A volunteer firefighter will be eligible for enhanced cancer disability benefits if the following criteria is met:
*The volunteer has served for at least five years as an interior fire-fighter as evidenced by passage of the mask fit test which is required of all volunteer firefighters with an interior firefighting rating; *Upon entrance into the volunteer service the volunteer firefighter successfully passed a physical examination; and *The volunteer firefighter has a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in any part of the body or a malignant growth or tumor affecting the lymphatic or hematological systems or digestive, urinary, prostate, neurological, breast or reproductive systems or melanoma.
A volunteer who meets the eligibility requirements of the bill shall be eligible for the following disability benefits:
*For medically serious forms of cancer the volunteer firefighter will be eligible for a lump sum payment of 25,000 which may be drawn from a pool of $50,000 which is available if there is more than one negative diagnosis over the volunteer firefighters' lifetime; *In the case of others medically treatable cancers, a lump sum benefit may be drawn from a pool of $50,000 which is available if there is more than one negative diagnosis over the volunteer firefighters' lifetime; *If the volunteer firefighter is totally disabled, a monthly benefit of $1,500 per month payable up to 36 consecutive monthly payments; and *In case of death, the volunteer firefighters' family will be ligible for an accidental death benefit in the amount of $50,000.
Allows a legally organized fire department to use proceeds from real property taxes for purposes of providing such disability insurance.
Requires that any fire department whose member has received a disability payment under the provisions of this act shall report such payments to the Office of Fire Prevention and Control. Beginning in January 1, 2020 the Office of Fire Prevention and Control shall report yearly to the legislature the number of firefighters who have received benefits under this act.
Authorizes the Office of Fire Prevention and Control to adopt rules and regulations as are reasonably necessary to implement the provisions of this act.
Section 3. Provides that fund received by the volunteer firefighter as insurance payments for cancer benefits shall not be subject to New York State income taxes.
Section 4. This act shall take effective on January 1, 2019.
Presently, there are no health or disability protections afforded volunteer firefighters outside of what is currently allowed for under the disability provisions in the volunteer firefighters benefit law.  Under the firefighters' benefit law, a totally disabled firefighter is limited to $600 per month in disability benefits.
A series of studies over the last several years have been published which link an increased rate of cancer to firefighters. When a fire-fighter must respond to an interior fire, there are often carcinogens burning in that fire. These carcinogens come from the burning of everyday products that are engulfed in a fire. Although training of the volunteer and career service has gotten better, and cancer awareness as well as prevention techniques have been highlighted, there is still a higher rate of cancer amongst interior firefighters.
Although volunteer firefighters save the State of New York billions of dollars through their volunteer service, there are no adequate provisions that compensate volunteer firefighters for a risk that studies have shown exist solely because of their job. At the present, if a volunteer firefighter contracts a serious form of cancer, he/she would be eligible for total disability benefits under the volunteer firefighters' law, which this is limited to $600 per month. These protections are not enough to provide the peace of mind for the volunteer firefighter as well as his family that they are protected in case treatment is needed. In many instances, volunteer firefighters have been forced to incur large out-of-pocket expenses when seeking treatment for cancer. A disease which they have gotten because they choose to volunteer and protect their community. This bill would simply provide that peace of mind by creating a gap coverage disability benefit to help the volunteer firefighter offset some of these expenses due to their illness.