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Firefighters March to Improve Cancer Coverage

May 10th, 2018 by Jake Stofan
Fire fighters face heightened risks for cancer.
It’s a reality that comes with the job.
But Florida’s fire fighters say there aren’t enough protections in place to cover medical bills associated with the disease.
31-year Orange County Fire Rescue veteran Tom Hill, or Bull as he likes to be called, began what has become known as the ‘March of the Bull’.
Starting at the southernmost point of Key West and ending at the State Capitol, he walked to honor two fellow fire fighters who lost their battles with cancer.
Although his journey began alone, over the 650 mile trek he’s marched along side thousands who have joined in support of his cause.
Hundreds showed up to complete the final 3 mile leg of the march.
Most all of them firefighters… Virtually all have lost a colleague to cancer.
“I’ve got Lieutenant W.C. Donaldson’s fire helmet in my hand right now. He passed away about two weeks ago,” said Sarasota Firefighter, Wayne Balcom.
The names of 915 fire fighters and the ashes of three have followed Bull throughout the march.
Most were victims of cancer.
Those left behind like Renee Donaldson who lost her husband to cancer in 2005, say Florida doesn’t do enough to help families. Who are often left in financial peril after their loved one passes.
“Basically what I got from the State of Florida was letters of condolence from my state representatives,” said Donaldson.
Marchers want firefighters cancer covered under workers comp.
This march comes two months before a new law requiring local governments to cover PTSD for first responders takes effect.
Some say it’s a step in the right direction… Bull says until he sees change, he’ll continue fighting.
“It’s not a start until they act like adults and do what’s right,” said Bull.
Cancer coverage for firefighters in Florida has been introduced in years past, but the bills died in committee.
Florida Chief Financial Officer and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis has vowed to make cancer coverage for Firefighters one of his top priorities in the 2019 session.

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