Mehlville Fire joins statewide fund for employee cancer coverage

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By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The Mehlville Fire Protection District Board of Directors unanimously voted Jan. 18 to join a statewide fund that would cover different cancer treatments for firefighters.

The Missouri Fire Fighters Critical Illness Pool is a financial assistance program to support firefighters diagnosed with one of 17 recognized cancers that occur more frequently in the occupation, including bladder, brain, colon, esophagus and lung cancer.

It would give firefighters with a minimum of five years of service coverage in the event they are diagnosed with any one of the 17 cancers.

The program was created after Senate Bill 45 passed the Missouri Legislature in 2021 and was signed in law by Gov. Mike Parson. It provides $5 million in financial aid.

The price to join the critical illness pool is $11,928 a year and it would cover 84 fire district employees.

Chief Brian Hendricks said another policy would come before the directors in the coming weeks to cover administrative staff, as well as firefighters who have not yet worked five years.

Ty Cardona, shop steward of Mehlville Local 2665 of the International Association of Fire Fighters, said “it’s a big thing” that the board considered joining the pool.

Chief Brian Hendricks added that firefighters were already doing everything they could to mitigate cancer risk through proactive measures such as washing turnout gear immediately after a call and showering after calls.