MOUNT PLEASANT, S.C. (WCBD) – After a spirited back and forth, Mount Pleasant Town Council voted in favor of a resolution to support a proposed firefighter cancer bill.
South Carolina lawmakers are proposing a bill that would offer more protections for firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer. If passed, the bill would presume any firefighter that is diagnosed with certain cancers was due to fighting fires.
Their illness would be covered as line of duty injury and could be paid for through worker’s compensation.
Mount Pleasant town council discussed a resolution to support the proposed SC firefighter cancer bill Tuesday. However, not everyone was in support of the resolution.
“I’m trying to figure out how we can say the presumption is if you got cancer, you got it in our empployement, under our equipment, operating under our regulations,” said Mount Pleasant Mayor, Will Haynie. “It seems to me that would expose us to people who run a fire department to some type of liability.”
Haynie believes the town should not make medical presumptions for employees. However, councilman Kevin Cunnane believes the town should protect local firefighters from the dangers they face daily.
“All the medical evidence shows the new plastics and things in these buildings, they are contributing to these firefighter cancers and they’re killing firefighters,” Cunnane said.
Cunnane and Haynie went back and forth while discussing their positions over the resolution. Haynie said he reached out to legal counsel for the legislature and he claims they advised against resolutions to this effect.
“I was advised when I calledd the legislative counsel of the general assembly this week, on us sending resolutions to the house,” Haynie said. “They strongly advised that we not do resolutions like this until we have received legal advice under Chapter 17 of Title 2 of the 1976 code.”
Cunnane said council rarely takes legal advice as it relates to resolutions.
“It’s interesting that we issue resolutions left and right, and when I do it, you decide to get legal advice,” Cunnane said.
Other councilmembers also weighed in in support of and against the resolution. After much discussion, town council voted in favor of the resolution to support the firefighter cancer bill with a six to two vote.
South Carolina is one of seven states that does not have a law protecting firefighters who are diagnosed with cancer. The Vice president of the South Carolina Professionals Firefighters Association, William Pesature, said it’s time for South Carolina to catch up.
“All we’re asking is that if a guy does his job and comes down with cancer and can’t work anymore, take care of him the way you should,” Pesature said. “If you had someone who got hurt during a situation, well why can’t people who get cancer go out on disability?”
Pesature said with the amount of carcinogens that firefighters are exposed to while working, a bill like this would protect the firefighters are their families if they are diagnosed with cancer. Pesature says he wants other firefights and community members to show their support for this bill.