Firefighter cancer bill to benefit family survivors formally filed by Secretary Grimes

04/12/2016 01:46 PM

FRANKFORT – Secretary of State Alison Lundergan Grimes formally received and filed Senate Bill 195 on Tuesday, which makes families of qualified firefighters who die of certain types of cancer eligible for a lump sum death benefit.

The legislation creates an assumption that qualified firefighters who die from certain types of cancer did so in the line of duty. To be eligible for the benefit, firefighters need to be employed for at least 5 years and must have been tobacco free for at least 10 years.

In Kentucky, families of a firefighter who die as a direct result of an action in the line of duty would receive a lump sum payment of $80,000. If there are surviving children and a surviving spouse, the payment shall be apportioned equally among the surviving children and the spouse. If there is no surviving spouse, the payment shall be made to the surviving children, 18 years old or older.

For surviving children less than 18 years of age, the State Treasurer would pay $35,000 to the surviving children; and hold $45,000 in trust divided into equal accounts at appropriate interest rates for each surviving child until the child reaches the age of 18.

Grimes sees the bill as a way to honor Kentucky’s fallen firefighters who have died from the many cancers that are related to their hazardous work.

“The Commonwealth now honors, making sure that they have the benefits that are due and deserved for the years of service in braving harmful conditions that led to, and ultimately took their lives with cancer,” Grimes said.

Kentucky Professional Fire Fighters President Joe Baer has worked with legislators for years on the legislation.

“This provides recognition that if a firefighter contracts certain types of cancers and unfortunately passes, then his family will receive a small benefit in recognition, as well as allow their names to be placed on the Fallen Firefighter Memorial here in Frankfort,” Baer said.

Steve Rath, husband of Southgate firefighter and EMT Monica Rath, who died after a long battle with cancer on March 9, sees it a memorial to his late wife.

“This is something that Monica has fought for, for years,” Rath said. “Not for herself, but the other firefighters in the state of the commonwealth, and I know that she’s just shining down on us and smiling from ear to ear that this has passed and is finally law.”

Lexington firefighter Matt Logsdon, has recently been diagnosed with a rare form of cancer which he attributes to his duties as a fireman.

“That’s the only explanation, nothing else fits,” Logsdon said. “The houses of today are way different than the houses of 50 years ago. It used to be, when something was on fire, it was cotton or wood. Now a day, its plastics, polyurethane, it’s a lot of toxic things that you can’t breathe it in or it gets into your skin.”

Logsdon is happy with the legislation saying that it was time for Kentucky to take care of the people who take care of the citizens of the state.

“It’s definitely a step in the right direction,” Logsdon said. “It’s just something that there a very few states left that aren’t protecting fireman, so I’m glad that we’re looking to this.

The legislation became law earlier this month without Gov. Bevin’s signature.


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