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Firefighter health and safety bill passes committee

Posted at 6:08 PM, Feb 06, 2019
and last updated 2019-02-06 20:08:55-05

Firefighters are one step closer to getting the Health and Safety Bill passed in the Montana legislature.

On Wednesday, Senate Bill 160 passed the Senate Business and Labor Committee by a vote of nine to one.

Firefighters have worked for almost two decades to pass a law that will protect them from on-the-job illnesses, such as cancer and communicable diseases.

Senator Nate McConnell of Missoula said he decided to sponsor the bill this session after a conversation with his brother.

“I called my brother who is a firefighter in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I asked him about presumptive care in New Mexico and he told me a story about a guy in his department who was covered under that bill,” McConnell said.

So after the 2017 session, McConnell started working to see what he could do to help get a law for firefighters passed in Montana.

There are 47 states that have some type of presumptive care legislation but Mississippi, Virginia, and Montana currently do not have legislation in place.

McConnell said Bill 160 is based on a bill in Idaho.

“What we have here is something I think is comprehensive that will help firefighters whenever they are facing the diseases that are caused by saving our homes and our families,” he said.

On Monday, the Montana State Council of Professional Firefighters & Montana State Firemen’s Association started their three-day legislation conference.

They are learning about the importance of social media and dealing with the traumatic stresses, while meeting with legislators to discuss the significance of Senate Bill 160.

Senate Bill 160 will now go to the Senate floor for a vote.

(January 24, 2019) Montana firefighters are hoping this year firefighters will get the coverage they need to protect those who get on-the-job illnesses.

The Montana State Council of Professional Firefighters announced Senator Nate McConnell of District 48 introduced the Health and Safety Bill Tuesday.

MSCOPFF represents nearly 700 paid firefighters at 21 different locations across Montana and they work closely with the Montana State Firemen’s Association.

Firefighters have worked for almost two decades to pass a law that will protect them from on-the-job illness, such as cancer and communicable diseases.

They hope the 66th Montana Legislature will help them join 47 other states who currently have protection in place for their firefighters.

The bill will soon be assigned to a senate sub-committee.