Firefighters in North Carolina fighting for better health protections

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GREENSBORO, N.C. — Firefighters in North Carolina are fighting for better health protections.

North Carolina is one of only five states that does not have workers compensation coverage for firefighters with cancer.

Dave Coker, the president of the Professional Firefighters of Greensboro, says a bill being introduced this month is working to change that narrative.

“When you think of firefighters dying in the line of duty, you know it’s like this dramatic backdraft moment, but that is not what our reality is. Our reality is that last year 70 percent of firefighters who died in the line of duty died from cancer,” Coker said.

Coker says the presumptive disability workers compensation bill would provide coverage to firefighters with five years on the job who contract cancer linked to occupational exposure. Firefighter groups want the law to include: rectal, oral cavity, brain, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, multiple myeloma, esophageal, mesothelioma, testicular and intestinal cancer.

“Other states have made investments in protecting their firefighters and we want to impress upon our elected leaders that we are falling behind,” Coker said.

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