CHARLOTTE, N.C. (FOX 46 CHARLOTTE) – They’re often the first people running in to help, but firefighters are also fighting another threat without any backup from the state.
The new state Senate budget proposal doesn’t include funding to help with firefighters battling cancer.
State leaders said, the new budget was a huge disappointment.
“It’s really difficult when they call for help and you just have to say, unfortunately, there’s nothing there. We have charitable funds that can help, but as far as the state goes there’s nothing there,” said Scott Mullins, the President of the Professional Firefighter and Paramedics of North Carolina.
Mullins said, even though the funding isn’t there in the proposed budget he still has hope because the state House still has its own budget to create.
“I was disappointed to be honest because we know there’s a lot of support,” said Mullins.
Support was something Charlotte firefighter, Justin Barringer, had when he was battling cancer in 2019.
“Something you don’t ever think is going to happen to you until it actually does, come to find out it’s one of the cancers that’s very popular within the firefighting community,” said Justin.
Just was diagnosed with Non Hodgkin’s Lymphoma. He said, his insurance covered treatments. However, he knows that’s not always the case with firefighters, especially in North Carolina.
North Carolina is one of a few states that doesn’t offer any type of extra cancer coverage for firefighters. The only coverage that’s guaranteed is if the firefighter dies from a certain type of cancer.
“If doesn’t kill you and you’re cured, then, there’s nothing,” said Justin.
Justin is in remission and said, he’s happy to be back doing what he loves.
“Cancer never made me want to stop helping people,” said Justin. “Never wanted to make me change careers, I have a passion to help others.”
Even though the state senate didn’t include cancer funding in its budget, that doesn’t mean things are over yet. House Representative Jason Saine said he plans to make sure the funding is in the House proposal.
“You hear these stories, you just know if you go into enough burning buildings and you’re exposed to enough chemicals, these things will have an impact on your body,” said Jason.