On 1/27/17, a senate committee unanimously approved proposed
Senate Bill 158
would create a cancer presumption for firefighters enacted under s. 112.1816, Fla. Stat. effective July 1, 2017.
While not law as of yet, Florida, as many other states in our Union, appears to be headed toward including cancer as a presumptive condition for firefighters. A few more legal hurdles still need to be crossed but MKRS LAW nonetheless recommends that all affected start to understand its significance.
The proposal p
rovides any full-time firefighter with any condition or impairment caused by:
prostate cancer or
Acquires a presumption under the law.
These conditions must result in total or partial disability or death and are presumed to have been accidental and to have been contracted in the line of duty unless the contrary is shown by competent evidence.
However, this list may grow as it appears the delineated cancers might not be all encompassing. In fact, the bill requires the Legislature to review the status of research programs which study the incidence of cancer in firefighters and "further statutory changes" are to be made in 2018.
To satisfy the eligibility conditions of the presumption, the firefighter:
- Must have successfully passed a physical examination administered before the individual began service as a firefighter and which failed to reveal any evidence of such a health condition;
- Must have been employed as a firefighter with his or her current employer for at least 5 continuous years before becoming totally or partially disabled or before his or her death;
- Must not have used tobacco products for at least 5 years before becoming totally or partially disabled or before his or her death; and
- Must not have been employed during the preceding 5 years in any other position that is proven to create a higher risk for multiple myeloma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, prostate cancer or testicular cancer. This includes any other employment as a firefighter at another employing agency within the preceding 5 years.
Of note, firefighters employed on July 1, 2017 need not satisfy the first requirement of successfully passing a physical examination to be entitled to the presumption. In effect, SB 158 appears to grandfather in approximately
firefighters from having to pass a physical examination.
Similarly, should the employer fail to provide a physical examination for a firefighter before they begin service, or immediately thereafter, the firefighter will likewise remain entitled to the presumption. However, requirements 2, 3 and 4 listed above must be satisfied.
To fund the benefit changes, the bill would raise the employer-paid contribution rate for the special risk class of the Florida Retirement System by 0.01% to offset the estimated costs that will result from the presumption.