Brewer introduces legislation for Firefighter Cancer Coverage

Published 6:06 pm Tuesday, January 24, 2023

Del. Emily Brewer, R-Isle of Wight, has introduced important legislation to add two cancers to the existing list of presumptive cancers covered under Virginia law. This legislation would help protect Virginia’s firefighters and provide them with necessary workers’ compensation coverage.

January is nationally-recognized as Firefighter Cancer Awareness Month. A collaboration between the Firefighter Cancer Support Network and the International Association of Fire Fighters, the goal is to reduce the risk of occupational cancer through awareness and prevention.

House Bill 1408 would amend and reenact the Code of Virginia § 65.2-402 to include the addition of bladder and thyroid cancers. The addition of these cancers to the existing covered cancers are based on scientific research and trending numbers of the diseases found in firefighters across the Commonwealth.


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“Firefighters across the Commonwealth put themselves at risk daily for potential toxic exposures in the name of safety.” Brewer said in a news release. “The buildings they enter or the hazardous environments they face are ties to exponentially higher incidence rates of specific cancers. This is why House Bill 1408 and the addition of these cancers is so vital.”

Virginia Professional Fire Fighters Robert Bragg said the biggest threat to firefighters continues to be the prolonged exposures to unseen toxins and carcinogens in the workplace and operating on emergency scenes.

“Both career and volunteer firefighters deserve this coverage,” Bragg said. “Research has proven firefighters, because of occupational exposures, are 9% more likely to be diagnosed with cancer and 14% more likely to die from cancer than the general public. We hope the General Assembly will agree and enact this legislation to provide coverage for these heroes and their families.”

Del. Brewer represents the 64th District of the Commonwealth of Virginia in the House of Delegates. She was first elected in 2018 and is a small business owner in Suffolk.

The Virginia Professional Fire Fighters is a statewide labor organization representing nearly 10,000 career firefighters and paramedics across the Commonwealth of Virginia.