First responders could be eligible for worker’s compensation

Thursday, December 21st 2017

JEFFERSON CITY — Governor Eric Greitens announced his support for a policy change that would make firefighters, police officers and first responders eligible for workers’ compensation. Issues would range to include cancer due to exposure to stress.

Jefferson City Fire Chief Matt Schofield said firefighters are often exposed to dangerous elements that can lead to cancer.

“Many times, in terms of exposure to chemicals and toxins, it’s unavoidable,” he said. “We try to limit it when we can but at the same time we know that it is a job hazard.”

He said the Jefferson City Fire Department started a program to limit toxic chemicals firefighters may come in contact with.

“We try to get some of the carcinogens and the products of combustion, the grit, grime and soot off of our equipment and our uniforms and bunker gear.”

He said that gear in good condition is key in preventing exposure.

“They protect us, we need them but at the same time if we don’t keep them clean and in good working order they can also cause a hazard if they’re contaminated,” the chief said.

“A breach or tear in a glove is a point of weakness where that becomes saturated not only for heat but also for all of the chemicals.”

Chief Schofield is hopeful additional support for first responders will keep his crew safe while they work, but also keep them healthy into their well-deserved retirement.

“We certainly support and appreciate the governor and lawmakers backing the firefighters, first responders, police officers,” he said. “That’s very appreciated and while the details are yet to be known, we think it’s a great step forward to call attention to some of the issues that we face some of the challenges we have in this industry.”

Lawmakers return to the Capitol in January for their annual legislative session.

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