Chairman Scott Leads House Passage of Legislation to Support Federal Firefighters
WASHINGTON – Today, Education and Labor Committee Chairman Robert C. “Bobby” Scott (VA-03) delivered the following remarks during today’s floor debate on passing H.R. 2499 Federal Firefighters Fairness Act of 2022.
View Chairman Scott’s floor remarks on YouTube.
“Across the country, roughly 15,000 firefighters employed by the federal government currently work to fight wildfires, respond to hurricanes, protect military and Veterans Affairs facilities, and keep our communities safe.
“Like all firefighters, federal firefighters face enormous health risks in order to carry out their heroic work. On any given day, federal firefighters will be exposed to dangerous levels of carbon monoxide, diesel smoke, toxic chemicals, and other serious hazards.
“This routine exposure can have lifelong health consequences for firefighters. Research confirms that firefighters are far more likely than other workers to contract leukemia, non-Hodgkin lymphoma, and lung, brain, and digestive cancers.
“Simply put, firefighting is critical, but dangerous, work. The least we can do to support firefighters who become injured or sick on the job is to help them secure the compensation and medical care they need to care for themselves and their families.
“Unfortunately, we are falling short of fulfilling that obligation to federal firefighters.
“Today, 49 states help firefighters access workers’ compensation by providing a presumption that certain diseases are work-related. Yet, no such protection exists for federal firefighters.
“The gap in access is not only fundamentally unfair to federal firefighters—it also leaves them with a steep challenge of proving, on their own, that their illnesses are work-related.
“The Federal Firefighters Fairness Act of 2021, led by the gentleman from California, Mr. Carbajal, takes critical steps to address the problem and strengthen federal firefighters’ access to workers’ compensation.
“By updating federal law, this bill would provide federal firefighters with a presumption that certain illnesses are work-related. Importantly, it plans for the future by allowing anyone to propose additions to the list of presumed illnesses, and authorizes the Labor Department to use the rulemaking process to make those additions.
“We must swiftly pass this bill to provide federal firefighters who are injured or become sick on the job—and their families—with the support that they have always deserved.”
Democratic Press Office, 202-226-0853
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