Fire chief elated with new bill protecting firefighters

Fire chief elated with new bill protecting firefighters

Clarkston News Editor

Governor Gretchen Whitmer in early December signed House Bill 4171, which will extend compensation benefits to more Michigan firefighters who were injured as a result of their service in the line of duty.
House Bill 4171 would amend the Worker’s Disability Compensation Act to include forest fire officers, and fire/crash officers under the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund. This enables forest fire officers and fire/crash officers who develop certain cancers to claim worker’s compensation benefits from the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund.


“House Bill 4171 is another significant step forward for the fire service in Michigan,” said Independence Township Fire Chief Dave Piche. “The health and safety of the firefighters has and continues to be the most important subject within the fire service and this bill serves to recognize and enhance this initiative of the fire service. As we see across the nation, many labor-intensive occupations continue to struggle to find workers. Society has shifted away from these types of occupations and moved towards careers in fields that do not require heavy labor and the such. That has left the fire service in a crisis the past 15 years in recruiting and staffing positions.
“I see the relevance of this bill to not help strengthen the health and safety aspect but also help demonstrate to the nation our firefighters who continue to serve will be ensured the assistance they deserve for the service they provide. My hope is recruiting firefighters in the future will be fortified with actions taken by the state governments, that employees will be backed as necessary to remain safe and healthy.
Whitmer added that, “Michigan’s brave firefighters go above and beyond every day, sacrificing so much to keep us safe.”
“We have to work together to ensure they get the benefits they deserve, and I am proud we came together to make a difference in their lives,” said Whitmer. “First responders and their families should know we will have their back in their time of need. Extending the First Responder Presumed Coverage Fund to include forest fire officers and fire/crash officers means these first responders are taken care of when they get hurt. This bill puts Michiganders first and supports first responders when they need it most.”
“Everyone knows the inherent risks our firefighters face daily, whether it be a fire or technical rescue,” added Jeff Roberts, president of the Michigan Association of Fire Chiefs. “What many may not realize is the health effects that can occur years later due to the exposures of environmental contaminants and carcinogens. We greatly appreciate the efforts by legislators and the Governor to provide an opportunity for our forest firefighters and airport crash-fire rescuers to qualify for the First Responder Presumed Cancer Fund.”
House Bill 4171 was sponsored by Rep. Sue Allor, R – Wolverine.

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