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PA Law Adds Cancer Coverage for Firefighters

All local fire companies, including Upper Saucon, Lower Milford, and Coopersburg Fire Departments, are affected.

Macungie Borough Council Solicitor Stephanie Kobal announced at the Aug. 1 meeting that House Bill No. 797, amending the Workers' Compensation Act (WCA), is now in effect.

According to the bill, which Gov. Tom Corbett signed into law on July 7, the WCA must “include coverage to firefighters suffering from a cancer caused by exposure to certain known carcinogens."

It continues by listing which firefighters are eligible. Compensation available under the new provision is available to firefighters who

  1. Have served four or more years in continuous firefighting duties
  2. Can establish direct exposure to a Group 1 carcinogen, and
  3. Have passed a physical exam prior to asserting a claim, or prior to engaging in firefighting, and the exam failed to reveal any evidence of cancer.

The list of Group 1 carcinogens includes items such as various types of radiation, radon, certain chemicals, formaldehyde, coal tar, asbestos, Epstein-Barr virus, soot, leather dust and more.

Council member David Boyko suggested keeping records of the firefighters who respond to calls, so they cannot put in a false claim.

Borough Manager Chris Boehm said insurance companies will most likely change their requirements for reporting claims now that the law is in effect and, in fact, will be contacting the borough’s insurance company for information.

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