NORTHWEST ARKANSAS (KFSM) – House Bill 1299 called Crump’s Law would provide up to one year of sick leave for firefighters who have contracted a particular type of cancer that has been linked to fighting fires.
Representative Nicole Clowney of Fayetteville said there have been many cancers linked to the job including colon cancer and some gastrointestinal cancers.
Right now, state law gives firefighter’s family benefits if they die from cancer linked to their work.
“Our firefighters have our backs every day, and it`s just time that we have theirs. The current state law expects firefighters in Arkansas will be fighting fires at the same time that they are fighting stage four cancer,” Clowney said.
The new bill would give those same benefits to living firefighters disabled by those cancers.
“Firefighters do so much for our community, and nobody wants to see them in this position, forced to return to work in their sickest days to do a job most of us can`t do at our healthiest,” she said.
After more than 20 years on the Springdale Fire Department, Captain Bud Planchon was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2009.
“You start out with your battling cancer, and it`s kind of tunnel vision. All you are thinking about is cancer and how to best treat that and treatment options,” Jane Sexton said.
His wife, Jane Sexton Planchon said he battled cancer with the same tenacity he fought fires, but Captain Planchon lost his fight with cancer in 2014.
“It`s patently unfair that they would have to be medically struggling with something caused by the very service that they`ve given in their occupations and then have this financial devastation hit as well,” she said.