Help is on the way for career firefighters in Alabama who have been diagnosed with cancer. A recently-signed law gives firefighters money for extra insurance coverage as they battle the disease. Fort Payne Fire Chief, Ron Saferite knows the dangers first-hand.
"I've had a little bit of a scare with cancer like alot of the firefighters are getting now. Mine was skin cancer," Chief Saferite said.
Chief Saferite is coming up on his 30th year as a firefighter, but 4 years ago, he tells WAAY31 he was diagnosed with skin cancer on his face and neck.
This session, the state passed a bill to help provide extra insurance coverage for firefighters like Chief Saferite.
"They get a lump-sum payment up front, and thats to cover first off, expenses, traveling, copays, that type of stuff," Chief Saferite said.
The maximum amount of money given from a local government to a patient would be $50,000. A firefighter could also receive $3,000 per month for up to 36 months. The bill lists more than 20 types of cancers, as firefighters can be diagnosed because of many different things.
Firefighters are not only exposed to carcinogens through the air that they breathe in. If they don't clean their gear properly. The toxic fumes could get into their skin.
The Fort Payne City Council recently approved new gear for the fire department. It would minimize the amount of toxic air exposed to the firefighter's skin.
According to the bill, the addition of cancer to the insurance policy, will cost local governments an extra $200 a year, per firefighter.
Chief Saferite says it's a long time coming, and thinks every dollar is worth protecting first responders.
"They're finally realizing our guys are going to get covered for stuff that they've done for everybody else in the past and future. Its paying them back for what they do," Chief Saferite said.