On Special Assignment: Protecting Firefighters - KRTV News in Great Falls, Montana

On Special Assignment: Protecting Firefighters

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Firefighters have a greater chance of developing certain cancers, but in Montana they have to prove it happened on the job in order to qualify for workers’ compensation benefits.

Most states have passed laws that will help firefighters who get cancer, lung and heart disease, or an infectious disease.

Montana is one of eight states that does not have some kind of presumptive law that helps protect firefighters. 

Right now if a Montana firefighter gets one of those diseases, they have to prove it themselves that they got it on the job. 

Fire officials say this is hard to do with cancer, because you have to find the exact moment you were exposed.

Joel Fassbinder, president of the Montana State Council of Professional Fire Fighters, explained, "Presumptive flips that burden around and it's presumed that it had happened on the job. Then the work comp carrier, it's up to them to refute that evidence and say no, it was not. We are taking the burden off of the employee at his most significant time of need, when they are sick or ill or possibly dying, and that burden is completely removed."

Tune in to the 10 p.m. newscast on KRTV to learn more.

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