MYRTLE BEACH, SC (WBTW)- South Carolina law makers are getting close to passing legislation that would support firefighters diagnosed with cancer. The bill will create health benefits for those who diagnosed.

Tuesday was a major step for firefighters in the state. Groups have been working to get support passed for years and now the bill has made it out of the House Labor, Commerce, and Industry Committee and will go to the House Wednesday for its final reading.

If passed, the legislation will establish the “Firefighter Cancer Health Care Benefit Plan” which provides a supplemental insurance policy once a firefighter is diagnosed with cancer. The benefits will help them be able to afford cancer treatments.

Studies show carcinogens enter into firefighters bodies through their lungs and skin. House fires are more like hazmat situations because of plastics and synthetics in homes today leaving firefighters twice as likely to develop cancer.

The bill includes reimbursing a firefighter up to $12,000 a year for out of pocket medical expenses, an up front payment of $20,000 upon diagnosis, and a $75,000 dollar death benefit.

The benefits will be for all firefighters in the state including volunteer and forestry firefighters. The bill covers all types of cancer, something several firefighter groups have been waiting for.

“It’s a great day for professional and volunteer firefighters in South Carolina to understand and know they have coverage for doing their job. It always boggled my mind that you ask people to go do this job but then we don’t want to take care of them when the outcome is bad. Now, we know we can take care of that outcome,” said Bill Pesature, Vice President of Professional Firefighters Association of South Carolina.

If the bill passes the House it will go to Governory Henry McMaster’s desk and if signed will go into effect July 1st, 2021.

To read the bill click here: