Firefighters bill becomes law

The Georgia General Assembly gave final passage to House Bill 146 last week, sponsored by State Rep. Micah Gravley (R-Douglasville). HB146 would require fire departments to provide adequate insurance coverage for firefighters who have been diagnosed with cancer and will now go to Gov. Nathan Deal for consideration.

“I am indeed grateful for the overwhelming support from the House and Senate for HB146,” said Rep. Gravley. “I am especially thankful for the support and leadership of Speaker David Ralston, as he has allowed me to see this bill from start to finish and has supported me the entire way. 

“Through the passage of HB146, the General Assembly has recognized the high risk of cancer firefighters face each day. Today we remember Douglas County Firefighter Sgt. Michael Richardson and Atlanta Firefighter Frank Martinez, as well as all of the brave firefighters we have lost to this horrible disease. This vote was a tribute to their lives and a victory for Georgia’s firefighters.”

HB146 would require fire departments to maintain insurance coverage for firefighters who have served 12 consecutive months on duty and are disabled and unable to continue to work as a result of cancer. Insurance benefits would include a lump-sum benefit of $25,000 or $6,250 based on the severity of the cancer. 

Additionally, if the firefighter is unable to perform his or her duties because of the diagnosis, a monthly benefit equal to 60 percent of the firefighter’s monthly salary at the time of diagnosis, or a monthly benefit of $5,000, would begin six months after the firefighter’s diagnosis and continue for 36 months. 

HB146 also provides coverage for volunteer firefighters, who would receive a monthly benefit of $1,500 per month for 36 months. The combined total of all benefits would be capped at $50,000 per firefighter during his or her lifetime. 

If the firefighter wishes to continue with their insurance coverage after retirement, the firefighter would be able to maintain their insurance coverage but would be responsible for paying insurance premiums.

Times Courier

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