Firefighter cancer bill heads to Governor’s desk; Pee Dee Firefighter reaction

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DARLINGTON, S.C. (WBTW) – South Carolina Senate passed the Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan and it is awaiting Governor Henry McMaster’s signature. News 13’s Lacey Lee spoke to a local fire chief and a local state rep on what this bills means to them.

Darlington Fire Chief Pat Cavanaugh says he’s been on the fire service since 1984 so he’s excited to see that help is on the way.

“There was a lot of excitement in my mind and probably every other firefighter in the state. Look back at our brothers in New York that went through the 9/11 problems…it also affected them. So it is a great anticipation to see the federal government and local government agencies working to do something for us,” Cavanaugh says.

This legislation will establish the “Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan” which provides a supplemental insurance policy once a firefighter is diagnosed with Cancer. Studies show carcinogens enter firefighters bodies through their lungs and skin. House fire are more like hazmat situations because of plastics and synthetics in homes today, leaving firefighters twice as likely to develop cancer.

State Representative Roger K. Kirby, District 61 – Florence/Marion Counties, says he had confidence in this bill passing the Senate.

“We’re really excited about that. We think that it’s long overdue and we just want firefighters to know how much we appreciate what they do and the sacrifices they make for each of us everyday,” says Kirby.

Cavanaugh says he’s seen how cancer has affected fellow firefighters and their families.

“It weighs on you very heavy and anyone who has been in the fire service a long time has witnessed this. Seen someone that has taught them or a mentor or a fallen fire chief watched them and their families suffer through this,” Cavanaugh says.

“It makes you wonder are you going to be taken care of. Someone who volunteers in the community all they want is the reassurance if they do a great job and they go home at night and that if something should happen our families, our wives, our kids are taken care of and that the burden of them helping someone else doesn’t fall back on them solely.”

Again, this legislation has been passed by the State Senate and now it awaits Governor McMaster’s signature. If it is signed it will go into effect July 1, 2020.

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