Volunteer firefighters could get cancer coverage, under proposed state legislation

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MONTICELLO – There are 1,500 volunteer firefighters in Sullivan County.  Unlike paid professionals, the volunteers are not covered if they are diagnosed with duty-related ailments, including cancer.    They face the same increased risk because of what they are exposed to in fighting fires.
The Presumptive Cancer Coverage Bill would address the discrepancy at the state level.
Sullivan County’s Emergency Services Commissioner, Richard Martinkovic, is president of the state County Fire Coordinators Association.  He just returned from a meeting in Albany, at which the legislation was a top topic.
“We go to a fire, whether we’re a career or a volunteer, that fire is fire and the carcinogens that are put out on our skins, we try to wear air protection, there are masks and so forth, it still at times violates our system and we do have members that come down with cancer,” Martinkovic said.
The Presumptive Cancer Coverage Bill has the backing of Sullivan County Assemblywoman Aileen Gunther.  About 70 Assembly members have signed on.