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Changes made affecting firefighter cancer presumption law

(WSYX/WTTE)

Ohio firefighters are declaring victory following changes to a bill that could have potentially gutted the recent firefighter cancer presumption law.

The Ohio House Insurance Committee met Tuesday morning after House Bill 27 had language allowing firefighters’ insurance claims be denied for “improper use of gear.”

The Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters argue their gear can’t protect against toxins because carcinogens are often permeated through the gear and absorbed into their skin.

“It’s not a barrier to keep us from absorbing the types of carcinogens that firefighters are getting exposed to that are causing the cancers,” Ohio Association of Professional Firefighters President Mike Taylor said. “I think companies continually work on that issue and I think our gear gets improved on a year to year basis. I think now manufacturers will turn some of their attention to these issues and hopefully develop equipment that better protects us from the absorption of carcinogens and toxins."

Representative Michael Henne proposed an amendment to remove that language, keeping it out of the firefighter cancer presumption law.

Following a vote, the amendment was passed and firefighters declared victory.

“We’ve certainly seemed to have gotten a commitment from the lobbying group against this bill that this is their last ask,” Taylor said. “We will ultimately move forward and see how it works out.”

The new firefighter cancer presumption law just went into effect in April. So far, no Ohio firefighters have filed a cancer claim.

The cancer risks plaguing firehouses was profiled over three years in a series of ABC 6 On Your Side investigations. It was found that one in 14 Columbus firefighters have contracted some form of cancer.

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