2016-03-09 / Front Page

Assemblyman Goldfeder Joins The Call For Extending Cancer Coverage To Volunteer Fire Fighters

In a powerful display of unity, Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D – Hamilton Beach) joined colleagues in the Assembly and Senate, and leaders representing the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, the New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, and the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York in an effort to extend a helping hand to volunteer firefighters facing a daunting challenge: beating cancer. "Our local volunteer firefighters in southern Queens and Rockaway have risen to the occasion during some of our state's greatest disasters, from September 11th to Superstorm Sandy. With bravery and determination, their selfless acts continue to keep our families safe. For this and
more, we owe it to our vollies to stand with them as they face the greatest challenge of their
lives," said Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder. "I am proud to stand with my colleagues and the
Fireman's Association of the State of New York in fighting to extend equal cancer treatment
coverage to all our first responders, and ensure our vollies are afforded the care they need and deserve."

During a press conference at the State Capitol last Thursday, Assemblyman Goldfeder and
colleagues stood in support of Assembly bill A5518, which would extend the already existing Volunteer Firefighters’ Benefit Law (VFBL) to cover all instances of melanoma, as well as cancers of the digestive, hematological, lymphatic, urinary, prostate, neurological, breast, and reproductive systems. During the 2015 legislative session, this bill unanimously passed the State Senate, but was still in committee in the Assembly at the end of the year.

Although fire service leaders and organizations have implemented robust education and
awareness campaigns in an effort to lower cancer rates, the simple truth remains cancer is
endemic to firefighting. Firefighters are routinely exposed to smoke, toxins, and other cancercausing agents in the line of duty, which accounts for much higher diagnosis rates than the general population. Fires have become more and more dangerous in recent years, as synthetic materials have become commonplace in building and furniture construction. This, coupled with the ubiquitous presence of electronics in buildings, means that modern fires are more toxic than ever before, producing a much greater volume of carcinogens.

The 100,000 volunteer firefighters in New York State routinely risk their lives to rescue their
fellow citizens from burning buildings, wrecked cars, and other hazardous situations. They
sacrifice their evenings, weekends, and holidays to take the sick and injured to the hospital, and they do it all while saving New Yorkers more than $3 billion every year – or what it would cost to replace New York’s volunteers with an all-paid fire service. These savings are the subject of a financial impact report released in early February of 2016.

Assemblyman Goldfeder’s district is home to five volunteer fire departments, as well as numerous FDNY members and other first responders. Just last week, Goldfeder announced open applications for a new round of federal SAFER grants to volunteer fire departments for personnel and training costs. The deadline to submit applications is Friday, March 25, 2016.

Fire departments are encouraged to contact Assemblyman Goldfeder's office by phone at (718) 945- 9550 or via email at goldfederp@assembly.state.ny.us for more information.

Key Facts on Cancer:

1. Firefighters are 102% more likely to develop testicular cancer than the general
population.*

2. Firefighters are 53% more likely to develop multiple myeloma than the general
population. *

3. Firefighters are 62% more likely to develop cancer of the esophagus than the general
population.**

4. Firefighters are 21% more likely to develop intestinal cancer than the general
population.**

5. Firefighters are 26% more likely to develop breast cancer than the general
population**

*Source: LeMasters,G. (2006). Cancer Risk Among Firefighters: A Review and Meta-analysis of 32 Studies. Journal of Occupational and Environmental Medicine doi:
10.1097/01.jom.0000246229.68697.90

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