Sundre's fire chief Marty Butts says he is very pleased to hear that the province is proposing to give volunteer firefighters the same cancer coverage as full-time paid firefighters.
Proposed amendments to the Workers' Compensation Act recently put forward will mean the updated Workers' Compensation Board list of cancers presumed to be work-related will also apply to Alberta's 10,000 volunteer, part-time and casual firefighters, along with the province's 3,500 full-time firefighters.
If passed the amendment would allow volunteer, part-time and casual firefighters to receive compensation for 14 presumptive cancers without shouldering the burden of proof, provided they have been regularly exposed to the hazards of a fire scene.
ìThat's awesome that volunteers are being looked at the same as a paid, full-time guy,î said Butts. ìOur guys have been calling for that to come in for a long time. We respond to the same things that city firefighters respond to and to not be covered on that is ridiculous.
ìAny house fire that we go to has toxic smoke that we are exposed to. We have the breathing air that we put on as part of our protocol for house fire scenarios, but when the fire is out there is still stuff being released from smoldering stuff.
ìYou have to be very careful or in years to come you will be paying the price with your life.î
Al Schram, 1st Vice President of the Alberta Fire Chiefs Association, said: ìThese cancers don't discriminate between full-time and volunteer firefighters,î said. ìRegardless of how many hours in a day are dedicated to their profession, our firefighters face risks to help Albertans. This is a day of celebration.î
Thomas Lukaszuk, Minister of Employment and Immigration said: ìBill 20 reflects our ongoing commitment to the brave men and women who put their lives on the line, so we can enjoy ours.
ìI recently announced the addition of four cancers to the presumptive coverage list. Now, the Alberta government proposes going full circle, and extending these same benefits to our volunteer firefighters.î