AIKEN COUNTY, S.C. (WJBF) — The South Carolina House of Representatives passed a plan for firefighters that some say is much needed and long overdue.
“In 2016, I was diagnosed with brain cancer. Since then I’ve had my craniotomy radiation and chemotherapy, and I’ve continued to be a firefighter,” Aiken Department of Public Safety’s David Turno told NewsChannel 6’s Shawn Cabbagestalk.
The 35-year veteran has been with the department since high school and he’s one of two firefighters still active with the department who has cancer. Some have passed away. “I’m still an interior certified firefighter. I continue my MRIs to follow this progress,” he added.
The Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan is a supplemental insurance policy that following a cancer diagnosis, provides benefits to firefighters who have been in a South Carolina Fire Department for at least five continuous years and within ten years of last date of active service.
It’s available to volunteer and career firefighters.
“This is a positive thing for people. It might be too late for some of us because you know, we’re already diagnosed, but uh, going forward, it’s going to help out a lot of people,” Turno added.
Following a medical diagnosis, a firefighter would be entitled to:
- Reimbursement of up to $20,000/year to the firefighter for any out of pocket medical expenses including deductibles, co-payments, or coinsurance costs incurred
- $20,000 following a firefighter’s diagnosis, not to exceed one benefit payment per calendar year. An additional benefit must be available upon twelve-month remission and separate diagnosis
- $75,000 for family members if one dies.
A firefighter who dies due to cancer or circumstances that follows from treatment would be considered to have died in the line of duty.
Some say the extra protection could help with recruitment efforts in rural fire departments. “It’s hard to get volunteers now to be involved with the community. So I think this will be an added benefit to help with recruitment to know if these guys that are serving their community, develop a healthcare concern with cancer, that they have some support and some financial stability,” Captain Brian Brasier added.
We’re told workman’s compensation doesn’t typically cover cancer diagnoses so this bill would make things easier for those who help to keep us safe.
Latest information on the bill, here: https://www.scstatehouse.gov/billsearch.php?billnumbers=1071&session=123&summary=B
Count on NewsChannel 6 to keep you updated on this developing story.