A new bill will be presented during the legislative session to insure firefighters who get cancer and other illnesses on the job.

A few firefighters are currently volunteering their time in Helena right now fighting to get the bill called 'Montana Firefighter Protection Act 2019', passed.

Cameron Abell is the political action chairman for Billings Firefighters Local 521. He said the firefighters that are in Helena are spending this week in meetings and building relationships and inform the legislators what the bill is about so the legisators can make an informed decision.

Abell explained what the bill consists of.

"The Montana Firefighter Health and Safety bill is a bill to help firefighters that get cancer from the job," Abell said. "There are a few other diseases that we've included such as Hepatitis, as well as other communical diseases as well as cardiac events related to a firefighting event. But these are diseases and illnesdes that we get on the job and that are not covered under workers comp. 47 other states have bills to protect firefighters that get these illnesses on the job and we're trying to get caught with the rest of the nation right now."

Abell said there may be some opposition on the bill in Helena, stating concerns about the rate of workers compensation. He said workers comp rates that have passed the same bill in other states have gone down significantly.

After more than 15 years of trying to get a bill passed to cover firefighters who get cancer from the job, Abell is hoping this year will be the year. The Montana State Council of Professional Firefighters hope to get the bill presented as early as next week.

KULR-8 Reporter

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