New law to protect firefighters named after Sparta’s Capt. Barry Brady who passed away in April
By Sparta Live | June 27, 2019 12:02 pm
Last Updated: June 27, 2019 at 8:04 am
By Rachel Auberger
On July 1, Tennessee will join 40 other states in having a law that grants firefighters the presumption that impairment of health caused by certain forms of cancer will be declared to have been caused by their work.
The Barry Brady Act, named for the retired captain of the Sparta Fire Department who lost his battle with colon cancer earlier this year, grants firefighters with the presumption that any condition or impairment of health caused by all forms of non-hodgkin’s lymphoma cancer, colon cancer, skin cancer, and multiple myeloma cancer that results in hospitalization, medical treatment, or any disability has arisen out of employment unless it can be proven otherwise by medical evidence.
“This is a great thing for firefighters,” said Kirk Young, chief of the Sparta Fire Department. “Our legislators have really worked hard on this. This is a real step forward in protecting firefighters across the state.”
To be eligible for presumption benefits, firefighters must be diagnosed after July 1, 2019, have served five or more consecutive years with an eligible fire department, and may only utilize the presumption for up to five years after their most recent date of exposure. A firefighter must have been exposed to heat, smoke, and fumes, or carcinogenic, poisonous, toxic, or chemical substances while performing the duties of a firefighter in the firefighter’s capacity as an employee.
Eligible firefighters must also pass a pre-employment physical medical exam, with a cancer screening, and complete an annual physical medical examination that includes a cancer screening for the types of cancer covered under this law. Any firefighter employed by an eligible department before July 2019 who would like to be eligible for benefits must obtain a physical medical examination with the appropriate cancer screenings by July 1, 2020.
“This means that in the event a fulltime firefighter in the state of Tennessee is diagnosed with cancer while they are employed, or for up to five years after they have retired, they will have access to workers’ compensation insurance coverage,” said State Senator Paul Bailey, of White County, who, according to Young, was instrumental in getting the bill passed. “Of course, that is dependent on that they meet the guidelines, including having annual physicals and cancer screenings.”
Young added, “Our men and women lay their lives on the line every day to protect our citizens, and this action by the state is well deserved.”