Assembly Speaker Carl Heastie and bill sponsor Assemblymember Aileen Gunther today announced the Assembly has passed the New York State Volunteer Firefighter Enhanced Cancer Disability Benefits Act. "Volunteer firefighters selflessly risk their lives to protect the lives of others and serve their communities," said Heastie. "We have a responsibility to make sure that they are taken care of when they fall ill, or worse, give their lives as a result of their service. This legislation offers peace of mind to firefighters and their families."
"Every firefighter risks his or her life in service to the community. We owe it to these brave men and women to support them in their times of need, as well," said Assemblymember Gunther. "This bill is a long-overdue way to say 'thank you' to our neighbors who bravely protect us when we need it most."
Under the New York State Volunteer Firefighter Enhanced Cancer Disability Benefits Act, all fire districts, departments or companies would be required to provide and maintain an enhanced cancer disability benefit insurance program for each eligible volunteer firefighter (A.711-B, Gunther).
In order to be eligible for the enhanced cancer benefits, a volunteer firefighter diagnosed with cancer must have served for at least five years as an interior firefighter and passed at least five yearly certified mask fitting tests and must have had a physical examination upon entry into service that did not reveal any evidence of cancer.
The volunteer would be eligible for a lump sum payment of $6,250 or $25,000 depending on the diagnosis. If the firefighter becomes disabled due to cancer, he or she may receive a monthly benefit of $1,500 payable for up to 36 months. In the event of a cancer related death, the volunteer firefighter's family would be eligible for a death benefit of $50,000. Under the bill, funds that are received by the volunteer firefighter as insurance payments for cancer benefits are not subject to New York State income taxes.