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Senators back benefits for firefighters with cancer

The study also found that 77 percent of police and firefighters had high cholesterol and 35 percent had high blood pressure.
The study also found that 77 percent of police and firefighters had high cholesterol and 35 percent had high blood pressure. (iStock)

A Senate committee Tuesday began moving forward with a proposal that would provide increased benefits for firefighters who are disabled or die after contracting certain types of cancer.

The proposal (SB 158), filed by Senate Appropriations Chairman Jack Latvala, R-Clearwater, was unanimously approved by the Senate Governmental Oversight and Accountability Committee.

The bill would create a legal presumption that firefighters who suffer from multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, prostate cancer or testicular cancer have contracted the diseases in the line of duty.

Such a designation would increase benefits the firefighters or their survivors would receive through retirement plans.

"We feel like that this bill recognizes the true health dangers firefighters are exposed to every time they protect us," Latvala said. "Despite the gear they wear, they're exposed to dangerous carcinogens which make them prone to several types of cancer."

But Kraig Conn, a lobbyist for the Florida League of Cities, raised concerns about the financial effects on cities, counties and special districts subject to the bill.

He said there could be a "significant fiscal impact" on workers' compensation insurance coverage for the local agencies.