Jacksonville honored local firefighters who protected families from danger but died of cancer.
A group of about 30 firefighters marched from Riverside to the steps of City Hall for the Carrying My Brother’s Burden Walk.
Their goal is to raise awareness about the staggering rates of cancer deaths among firefighters in hopes of changing state legislation.
“Every day they show up for work, they’re also being exposed to carcinogens and a lot of our firefighters are coming out with cancer,” Randy Wyse said. He is the president of the Jacksonville Association of Firefighters and said some of their own have been diagnosed with cancer.
“We have a firefighter right now that’s going through chemo and radiation,” Wyse said. “So it’s something we see on a regular basis.”
More than 1,400 state firefighters are participating in the walk to raise awareness about the growing issue. They hope their efforts will gain the attention of state legislators to pass the Firefighter Cancer Coverage Bill.
“A cancer support bill that if a firefighter comes down with a certain kind of cancer, which are laid out in the bill, that it would be considered job-related,” Wyse said. “All of the expenses are covered under that firefighter’s health care plan.”
The bill has already been proposed to the Florida House and Senate in Tallahassee.
It is designed to change the health care system for state firefighters to help them with medical treatment and ensure a financial plan to support their families.
“There’s a small stipend that would be given to the firefighter to cover copay and the expenses, and they have the job protection to where it’s like workers' comp, to where they’re able to have time off to receive treatment and hopefully get better,” Wyse said.
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