MFPD joining statewide fund for employee cancer coverage

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By Erin Achenbach, News Editor

The Mehlville Fire Protection District is considering joining a statewide fund that would cover different cancer treatments for firefighters in districts that opt-in.

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.

“It covers a wide variety of different cancers that are very prevalent with firefighters,” Chief Brian Hendricks said at the Dec. 21 board meeting.

The cost to cover 12 and 24-hour employees for 2023 would be $20,164.

“We’re also taking all the steps necessary to try to mitigate the cancer through proactive measures such as washing turnout gear immediately … taking the time to take showers after calls,” Hendricks said.

“I appreciate you looking at it. It’s a big thing,” added  Ty Cardona, shop steward of Mehlville Local 2665 of the International Association of Fire Fighters.