Local firefighters fight for cancer presumption bill
LEE COUNTY, Fla.- Firefighters put their lives on the line every time they run into the flames. Now, those toxic materials they are breathing in could be linked to cancer.
WINK News uncovered the State of Florida is behind when it comes to helping firefighters diagnosed with the deadly disease.
Bonita Springs firefighter Giovanni Zamora has been on the job for nine years.
“I love it, because I get to help people and I am able to make a difference in someone’s life,” said Zamora.
While battling fires at work, he’s been battling cancer at home. Zamora has no history of cancer in his family, but already, he’s beaten the disease twice.
“The love and support that we have within in this department is immense.”
In another case, Cher Labruzzo’s husband, a healthy, City of Fort Myers firefighter, died from cancer.
“They said, you have smokers cancer, it doesn’t make sense and then when he said he was a firefighter, the light bulb went off,” Labruzzo tells WINK News.
Bayshore Fire Chief Larry Nisbet says the invisible danger is the toxic materials inside a burning building.
“These airborne particles still come in contact with the gear, they cross our barriers and come in contact with the skin.”
Right now, 34 states offer protection for firefighters who are diagnosed with any sort of cancer. Now, local fire chiefs are heading to Tallahassee to get that same protection and financial aid for our firefighters.
“The bills don’t stop coming, even after going through four months of chemo, I am still getting bills in the mail,” said Zamora.
WINK News learned legislators have been reluctant to broaden the coverage because of the effects it could have on the budget.
“If it cost more, it costs more, this has to happen,” said Chief Nisbet.
Firefighters across the state will head to Tallahassee Tuesday, where they will spend two days meeting with state lawmakers. In 2008, the push to get the law passed was unsuccessful.