The U.S. Congress passed legislation to ensure access to health care and compensation for federal firefighters who get sick after exposure to hazardous materials. In addition, local U.S. Congressman Sean Patrick Maloney introduced legislation to deliver COVID-related paid leave for federal firefighters. Both bills are vital in the Hudson Valley as Stewart Air National Guard Base and West Point firefighters are federally-employed.
“Federally-employed firefighters risk their health every day to keep us safe, and they deserve the best care and benefits we can provide,” Maloney said.
Austin McCarty, President of the West Point Professional Firefighters union, said, “Thank you, Congressman Maloney, for hearing our concerns about unequal benefits and compensation for federal firefighters and taking action to address the problem. These bills would be a game changer for the firefighters here at West Point.”
Under the old system, federal firefighters diagnosed with certain diseases had to apply for compensation and prove that the disease was contracted as a result of their work.
The Federal Firefighters Fairness Act, which was co-sponsored by Maloney, ensures that federal firefighters who get sick from exposures do not have to fight to have their illness recognized as a workplace exposure. The bill establishes presumptions that certain diseases contracted by federal firefighters and associated federal workers who seek claims are “proximately caused” by their work, ensuring that they will receive benefits when diagnosed with those diseases.