A bipartisan bill to ensure federal firefighters receive the same job-related disability and retirement benefits as state, county, and municipal firefighters has passed through the House of Representatives.
Rep. Salud Carbajal (D) authored the Federal Firefighters Fairness Act of 2021, which creates the presumption that firefighters working for federal agencies contracted certain illnesses and cancers while on the job. Currently, federal firefighters do not have that presumption and have to provide specific exposures that may have caused their disability.
Carbajal says the bill has been denied in congress for about 20 years, but advancements in science, among other factors, made its passing attainable.
“The propensity of science clearly identifies the actual hazards that firefighters go through. It shows the higher probability of risk that they endure when fighting fires,” said Carbajal. “Two, the increase in bipartisan support [helped the legislation pass]. And third, it doesn’t hurt that we have a cost-neutral piece of legislation. Anytime we can move something forward that has minimal cost on the taxpayers, and yet accomplishes a lot, I think is a win-win. That’s what we have with this legislation.”
The measure would provide these benefits for roughly 23,000 firefighters nationwide. The bill is now set to head to the Senate for a vote.