To the members of the NH Fire Service. As a member of the NHSFA in support of the NH Fire Chiefs and the NH Firefighters Union we encourage you to contact your state representatives to support SB 541. Please write your representative to learn more about this bill so we can protect the future of our firefighting members.
I am writing today in support of SB 541, an act establishing a fund to reimburse costs associated with Firefighters who contract occupational cancer.
The fire service has long suspected that cancer rates in Firefighters were higher than the general population. We now have the data to support this. Studies by the University of Cincinnati and the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health establish a relationship between our occupation and certain cancers. With this information, the New Hampshire Fire Service has aggressively taken steps improve our educational initiatives to make sure that all members of the New Hampshire Fire Service are aware of the dangers and risks associated with our profession. We have adopted new practices that will assist with limiting our exposure from cleaning, inspecting and maintenance of our protective clothing and consistent air monitoring at fire scenes to make sure quality decisions can be made regarding respiratory protection. All of these improvements certainly limits the risk, but does not eliminate it.
SB 541 will establish a funding mechanism for Firefighters suffering with occupational cancer. This fund will pay for treatment as well as wages when the Firefighter cannot work. This is consistent with HB 671 which was signed into law in 1987 by Governor John Sununu.
SB 541 also establishes a requirement for a comprehensive medical physical as outlined by the National Fire Protection Association standard 1582. Further, it will require a Firefighter to have a tobacco-free lifestyle. The physical program will be phased in over three years, with financial support coming from reimbursement through this program.
We would encourage you to review SB 541 in totality for further specific details.