State Rep. David Rutigliano applauded final State House of Representatives approval of a year-long bipartisan effort to craft legislation which addresses the needs of firefighters who have contracted certain cancer related to their duties.

Rep. Rutigliano was part of a firefighter working group which consisted of legislators from across the aisle, Connecticut Council of Municipalities (CCM), Council of Small Towns (COST), municipal leaders and the firefighters union.

The proposal would permit the use of existing resources to fund a new account that will provide wage replacement benefits to eligible firefighters who suffer from certain types of cancer. The bill also establishes certain uniform safety and reporting measures to help protect firefighters.

“I was enormously honored to have been asked to negotiate on behalf of the House Republican Leader Themis Klarides on this important issue and work with all the different stakeholders to broker a compromise bill everyone can support,” said Rep. Dave Rutigliano, the ranking Republican on the Labor & Public Employees Committee. “From the beginning, the goal of any compromise legislation has been to provide our local firefighters who are diagnosed with certain cancers linked to the very dangerous job of fighting fires with necessary support and coverage they deserve while not overburdening our local cities and towns and this bill accomplishes that.” The bill diverts $.01 from the current e-911 fee on phone bills and directs those funds to a new‘Firefighters Cancer Relief Account’. The account will be managed by the Connecticut State Firefighters Association through a new Cancer Relief Subcommittee.

According to the legislation, the account funds are to be used solely for the purposes of providing wage replacement benefits to eligible firefighter cancer victims and to pay administrative costs. The benefits do not begin until July 1st 2019, permitting the account sufficient time to accumulate funds and the benefits can only continue for up to 2 years and payments are limited to what is actually in the fund.

Firefighters Cancer Relief Program would be available to the uniformed members of paid municipal, state, or volunteer fire department, local fire marshal, deputy fire marshals, fire investigators and fire inspectors.

The Firefighters Cancer Relief Program, under the new law, would provide the wage replacement benefits, for eligible firefighter cancer victims.

The bill now heads to the State Senate for a full debate and vote then on to the governor.