Frankfort committee advances Firefighter Cancer Bill

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FRANKFORT, Ky. (WKYT) - As Lexington firefighter Matt Logsdon is fighting for his life in a Chicago center, which is where he is being treated for stage 4 cancer, his coworkers are in Frankfort, fighting for a bill that would give his family financial security.

Senate Bill 195 would classify the death of a firefighter from cancer as a line of duty death. The bill calls for the state to give $80,000 to families of firefighters who die from cancer.

Firefighters who testified before the Appropriations and Revenue committee Tuesday morning said they have a higher risk of developing cancer because they're exposed to dangerous substances when they fight fires.

"New products that are in furniture now that used to be made of natural fibers and wood is now being burned and the new stuff is plastic and pretty much fake and when it burns it gives off more toxins," said Lexington Professional Firefighters president Chris Bartley.

As Governor Matt Bevin tries to slash the state's spending to alleviate the multi-billion dollar pension shortfall, firefighters are also focused on finance. They're putting restrictions on the bill to keep it from burdening the budget.

"In order for the families to qualify for benefits, the firefighter must have worked as a firefighter for five years in a row, must be under 65 at time of death, and not use tobacco for 10 years prior to the diagnosis for cancer," said Senator Albert Robinson.

The committee approved Senate Bill 195 on Tuesday, so it will be heard on the floor next. If it is approved there, if will be sent to the House for a vote.

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