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Texas Firefighter Seeks Workers Compensation In Cancer Battle

A Dallas-are firefighter is seeking workers compensation to cover the costs of his battle with colon cancer. Keith Long filed a workers compensation claim citing that his colon cancer was caused by his exposure to toxic chemicals during his twenty-year career as a firefighter in the Dallas suburb of Bedford. Benefits administrators with the Texas Municipal League, the agency that handles workers compensation claims for city employees, denied Mr. Long’s claim, stating that his cancer was not related to his job duties.

Details of the Workers Compensation Claim

Mr. Long was diagnosed with colon cancer in 2013. In his workers compensation claim, he cites his exposure to asbestos and other harmful chemical agents during his firefighting career as the causes of his cancer. The workers compensation benefits agency denied his claim, citing a report from the International Agency for Research on Cancer. The report claims that medical science has not established a link between firefighting and colon cancer. However, Mr. Long’s attorney released a statement citing asbestos, a material used as insulation in older buildings, as having a direct link to colon cancer.

City Won’t “Force Acceptance” of Workers Compensation Claim

Bedford City Manager Roger Gibson emailed a statement to a Fort Worth newspaper to clarify the city’s stance on Mr. Long’s workers compensation claim. The statement mentioned that Mr. Long is receiving insurance benefits from the city. The Bedford Professional Firefighter’s Association asked Mr. Gibson to step in an ask the workers compensation benefits office to reconsider their decision. He expressed his sympathies, but wrote back that he “cannot force the acceptance of Keith’s claim.”

Workers Compensation Claim Seeks Money, Time Off for Treatments

Although Mr. Long receives insurance payments from the city, his attorney claims that insurance alone will not cover his medical expenses or lost wages. The appeal seeks to restore Mr. Long’s workers compensation payments to cover the costs of his treatments, including chemotherapy, radiation and pain treatments. During his treatment, Mr. Long is still working for the Bedford Fire Department. The workers compensation appeal also seeks to give him paid time off for his treatment sessions without deducting that time from his vacation and sick leave time.

Firefighters Raise Awareness of Workers Compensation Issues

The firefighter’s association also sought to raise awareness of how the lack of workers compensation affects both themselves and their stricken colleague. The group argued that agents that firefighters encounter on nearly every call can cause cancer, including wood smoke, fuel exhaust, and chemical residue. The city’s firefighters also created a Facebook page to bring attention to Mr. Long’s illness and his difficulties with the workers compensation system.

Source: Fort Worth Star-Telegram

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