Tennessee firefighters battling cancer could receive financial benefits

Posted at 5:37 PM, May 24, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-24 20:13:54-04

HENDERSONVILLE, Tenn (WTVF) — A bill that would provide financial benefits to firefighters diagnosed with certain cancers now heads to the Governor's desk.

The Barry Brady Act was unanimously approved by the Tennessee General Assembly. If signed into law, it will make the state the 41st in the nation to have such a law.

The Barry Brady Act, named for the 25-year veteran with the Sparta Fire Department who lost his battle with colon cancer earlier this year, grants firefighters with the presumption that any condition or impairment of health caused by all forms of Non-Hodgkin's Lymphoma cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer, and multiple myeloma cancer that results in hospitalization, medical treatment, or any disability has arisen out of employment.

"We’ve been protecting the lungs all these years we’re finding that more and more of these things are absorbed through the skin," said Goodlettsville Chief Kenneth Reeves.

There's no denying that being a firefighter is one of the world's most dangerous jobs, but it's not just flames and car crashes that put these brave men and women at risk.

"We finally got some definite studies some science that said these are the exposures, these are the rates and this is exactly how much more likely firefighters are to get these cancer," said Reeves.

In order to be eligible for presumption benefits, firefighters must have been diagnosed after the passage of the law, served five or more consecutive years with an eligible fire department, and may only utilize the presumption for up to five years after their most recent date of exposure.

"This bill is certainly going to be out to help and help protect the firefighters," said

Eligible firefighters must pass a pre-employment physical medical exam with a cancer screening and complete an annual physical medical examination that includes a cancer screening for the types of cancer covered under this law. Presumption benefits can be refuted by competent medical evidence that shows employment was not the cause of a cancer diagnosis and secondary employment or lifestyle habits may be considered when determining whether the presumption applies.

The bill also doesn't cover firefighters who were diagnosed with cancer before the bill becomes law, but to these men and women, it's a start.