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Introduced by Senator Illuzzi of Essex-Orleans District, Senator Carris of Rutland District, Senator Condos of Chittenden District, Senator Miller of Chittenden District and Senator Racine of Chittenden District

Referred to Committee on


Subject:  Labor; workers’ compensation; firefighters; cancer; presumption of injury

Statement of purpose:  This bill proposes to create a presumption that cancer suffered by a firefighter is caused by employment.


It is hereby enacted by the General Assembly of the State of Vermont:


The general assembly finds the following:

(1)  In the course of fighting fires, firefighters are frequently exposed to many different products of combustion, diesel smoke, hydrocarbons, cyanides, plastics, polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), benzene, chloroform, soot, styrene, and formaldehyde, all of which are known carcinogens.  Firefighters may also be exposed to heavy metals, carcinogenic chemicals, volatile gases, minerals, and other substances with acute toxic effects.

(2)  Scientific studies performed both nationally and internationally have recognized that firefighters have significantly greater incidents of certain cancers than the general population.

(3)  Gathering and establishing evidence of work-related causation for such cancers is difficult and costly and requires significant expert testimony.

(4)  Approximately 28 states and the provinces of Canada have adopted legislation creating a presumption that certain cancers suffered by eligible firefighters are caused by exposure during their employment as firefighters.  Vermont adopts this rebuttable presumption to protect the safety and well-being of its firefighters.

Sec. 2.  21 V.S.A. § 601(11)(E) and (F) are added to read:

(E)  In the case of a firefighter, as defined in 20 V.S.A. § 3151(3) and (4), who suffers death or disability from a cancer listed in subdivision (iv) of this subdivision (11 E), the firefighter shall be presumed to have suffered the cancer as a result of exposure to conditions in the line of duty, unless it is shown by a preponderance of the evidence that the cancer was caused by non‑service‑connected risk factors or non‑service‑connected exposure, provided:

(i)  The firefighter completed an initial and any subsequent cancer screening evaluations as recommended by the American Cancer Society based on the age and sex of the firefighter prior to becoming a firefighter or within two years of the effective date of this act, and the evaluation indicated no evidence of cancer.

(ii)  The firefighter was engaged in firefighting duties or other hazardous activities over a period of at least five years prior to the diagnosis.

(iii)  The presumption shall not apply to any firefighter who has used tobacco products at any time within ten years of the date of diagnosis.

(iv)  The disabling cancer shall be limited to leukemia, lymphoma, or multiple myeloma, and cancers originating in the bladder, brain, colon, gastrointestinal tract, kidney, liver, pancreas, skin, or testicles.

(F)  A firefighter who is diagnosed with cancer within ten years of the last active date of employment as a firefighter shall be eligible for benefits under this subdivision.  The date of injury shall be the date of the last injurious exposure as a firefighter. 

Published by:

The Vermont General Assembly
115 State Street
Montpelier, Vermont