Decatur providing enhanced insurance coverage for firefighters diagnosed with cancer

WAAY 31 spoke with firefighters who told us why this is so important for them.

Posted: Dec 18, 2019 6:39 PM
Updated: Dec 19, 2019 9:24 AM

Decatur firefighters are extra thankful because the city is giving them extra and enhanced insurance coverage for cancer. Some of those firefighters explained to WAAY 31 why the coverage is so important.

The day to day job of a firefighter comes with many dangerous challenges, and while being injured on the job is always a concern...so are the long term effects of being a firefighter.

One thing that is on firefighters minds is the possibility that they may get cancer throughout their career especially when they have to go into house fires and other situations that involve a lot of smoke. They wear as much protective gear to try to prevent them from breathing in too much smoke, but the possibility of them getting cancer is still there.

"It’s a really big concern with everybody. Everybody talks about it," Tracy Thornton, Division Chief for Decatur Fire and Rescue, said.

Thornton has been a fireman for more than 20 years, and he said throughout his career he’s seen multiple co workers diagnosed with cancer.

"We have had several fireman that actually while at work had cancer and right now there’s probably 2-3 that’s retired from Decatur that’s had cancer," he said.

Earlier this year, the state mandated cities provide cancer insurance to firefighters, but it was only basic coverage for certain types of cancers. On Monday the Decatur City Council decided to go beyond that and offer enhanced coverage cover all cancers for all firefighters.

“It’s a great thing that they did for us," Thornton said.

Even though he's grateful for what the council did, he says they’ll work on different safety measures daily to prevent the firefighters from even getting cancer.

“We really need to concentrate on preventing the guys from getting cancer in the first place so hopefully we won’t have to use the insurance coverage," he said.

The city will be footing the bill for the premium. Thornton says fire departments aren’t getting as many applicants as before and the possibility of getting hurt or getting cancer could play a role, so he’s hoping moves like these will fix that.

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