VALHALLA, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – Fire officials in Westchester County are calling on Gov. Andrew Cuomo to sign a bill that would extend cancer-related insurance coverage to volunteer firefighters.
There are 110,000 volunteer firefighters in New York State, WCBS 880’s Sean Adams reported. They are pushing for gap coverage – insurance benefits in case they develop cancer related to their service, which often exposes them to toxins.
Under the current law, only paid firefighters receive these benefits.
“There is a moral, ethical and legal obligation on the state of New York to pass and sign this legislation into law,” said Jerry DeLuca, with the State Fire Chiefs Association.
The bill passed unanimously in the legislature. It includes $25,000 for any qualifying cancer, three years of monthly disability checks and a $50,000 death benefit. Municipalities would have to pay for the coverage.
Upstate firefighter Brian McQueen, a cancer survivor, wants what paid firefighters already have.
“Is that fair? Is that really fair to have one covered and not the other, when we’re doing the same job?” he asked “I volunteered to fight fires. I did not volunteer to get cancer.”