Union, lawmakers work to secure funding to help firefighters wit - WNEM TV 5

Union, lawmakers work to secure funding to help firefighters with cancer

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(Source: WNEM) (Source: WNEM)

It's no secret their job is dangerous, but for years firefighters have fought for state funding to help pay for medical expenses for those who've developed cancer on the job.

“In Saginaw we’ve had a lot of members have cancer in the past, retirees,” said Brian Hausbeck.

Hausbeck is the vice president of the Saginaw Firefighter's Union.

Hausbeck said the data has always supported the claim that firefighters who develop cancer did so on the job.

“They’ve done studies, the average life expectancy of a full-time firefighter is 57 years, as opposed to the general public, which is in the 70s,” Hausbeck said.

And that's why he said the union, with the help of state lawmakers, recently scored a victory for emergency responders.

“We were very excited to see that,” Hausbeck said.

On Tuesday, the state senate approved a $1 million bill aimed at helping cover full-time firefighters' medical costs for 10 cancers including: respiratory tract, bladder, skin, brain, kidney, blood, thyroid, testicular, prostate or lymphatic cancers.

Hausbeck said he's seen more than his share of colleagues lose their battle to cancer they developed on the job like his former captain Michael Grey who was only 44 years-old. Grey’s father, Tim Grey, also died of cancer.

The father and son died only a few week apart.

While a million dollars doesn’t seem like much, Hausbeck said it’s a step in the right direction

“Now the fund is active and it’s working, any members throughout the state who get cancer can be protected,” Hausbeck said.

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