Some lawmakers have expressed concerns about the strain the measure could put on municipalities’ budgets.
Tony Harris, president of the Hamilton Local IAFF 20, said he is hopeful that Kasich will sign Senate Bill 27 since more than 30 states already have legislation like this to assist firefighters who receive a cancer diagnosis.
“We are hopeful that he will do the right thing and sign it,” Harris said.
Many firefighters return to the job after a cancer diagnosis, according to Stern. Senate Bill 27 gives them the opportunity to do so without fear of running out of leave time and facing the possibility of losing their job, he said.
Although better training and education about how to minimize the risk are in place, firefighters are still going to be exposed to harmful agents, he said.
“Ohio firefighters are working on reducing our exposures, but we can’t eliminate all of the risk,” he said, adding that some contaminants are absorbed through the skin.
If signed by Kasich, the bill would allow firefighters to access benefits through the Ohio Bureau of Workers Compensation and Ohio Police and Fire Pension Fund.
According to lawmakers, until this bill was passed, Ohio was one of just 16 states that did not recognize the link between fighting fires and cancer.
Kasich is expected to sign the bill into law within the next two weeks.