July 27, 2009 – Flanked by IAFF General President Harold Schaitberger, IAFF 3rd District Vice President Mike Mullane, Professional Fire Fighters of Maine (PFFM) President John Martell and several Maine fire fighters, Maine Governor John Baldacci signed new state legislation – An Act Allowing Workers’ Compensation Benefits for Fire Fighters Who Contract Cancer.
“The IAFF is pleased to have garnered the support of Governor Baldacci and the state legislature on this important issue,” says Schaitberger. “This law will save fire fighter lives.”
IAFF 3rd District Vice President Mullane agrees, “I am very proud of how the IAFF and the PFFM were able to work with both Republicans and Democrats for the good of all fire fighters. Bipartisanship is truly the key to successful lobbying.”
When the new law becomes effective September 12, fire fighters who contract certain cancers (kidney, prostate, breast, non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma, testicular, colon, brain, bladder, leukemia or multiply myeloma) will be eligible for workers’ compensation benefits.
Fire fighters must have been employed for at least five years to qualify for benefits. Additionally, retired fire fighters are eligible for 10 years post-employment, up to the age of 65. The presumption law is rebuttable, i.e., the employer must prove that the fire fighter contracted cancer somewhere other than the job.
“I am very proud of all of the hard work by the IAFF and Maine’s fire fighters on this legislation,” says PFFM President Martell. “Because of everyone’s dedication and professionalism, all of Maine’s fire fighters will be protected if they get sick on the job.”
The IAFF produced a booklet of information supporting the need for the cancer legislation and other materials the PFFM used for its lobbying efforts.
Maine already has presumptive protection for cardiovascular, pulmonary and infectious diseases.