Death renews push for law change

Death renews push for law change

There are 18 comments on the WOOD-TV Grand Rapids and Michigan story from Dec 11, 2008, titled Death renews push for law change. In it, WOOD-TV Grand Rapids and Michigan reports that:

Forty-year veteran firefighter Henry Velzen's battle with bladder cancer ended this week.

Join the discussion below, or Read more at WOOD-TV Grand Rapids and Michigan.

Lori

United States

#1 Dec 12, 2008
Smoke is the number one cause of BLADDER CANCER. I would imagine that a job that has such risks, this should be part of the work comprehension coverage. That should be fought by his family. Or all Firefighters should be offered the Cancer Coverage through AFLAC.
Laugh A Lot

Benton Harbor, MI

#2 Dec 12, 2008
Firefighters have got to be the most courageous people I have had the pleasure to meet.

It come down to $Money$ vs Lives. Shameful!

Since: May 08

Grand Rapids, MI

#3 Dec 12, 2008
Very sad, my thoughts are with his family. It is a shame that the people we rely on for help like a house fire, are not covered by the "us", I would think the proper insurances would be a must.! The firefighters take so many risks, and to be cheated of this workmans comp claim is wrong, and I am sure it added extra stress to the cancer. Shame on the system.
Union give me more

Hudsonville, MI

#4 Dec 12, 2008
While I have compassion and understanding for this man and the illness...I cannot help but note that the representative on the TV interview clearly stated that this bill was for "FULL TIME firefighters with 5 years of service."

Seems this is nothing more then another union grab for more. Volunteer firemen, or paid on call as is truly more accurate of the men and women who serve in that capacity are just as much at risk. They respond to fires with the same risks as any career fire fighter.

Why is it that there is the specific requirement for "FULL TIME" fire fighters only in this desired leglislation?

Reserve Police Officers face the same thing. They take the same risks as the certified officers they are partnered with, but they, too, get disrepsected by the unions and the leglislation they try to get passed.

Full time or volunteer...the risks are the same. It may not be for 40 hours a week, but then, no fire fighter is fighting fires 40 hours every week either.

“LET'S GO RED WINGS!!”

Since: Aug 07

America

#5 Dec 12, 2008
These brave people put their lives in danger for US every day. We need to take as much care of them & their families as we possibly can.
Tony Tagliavia

United States

#6 Dec 12, 2008
@Union give me more:
Just to pass along more information, the reason that the bill references only full-time firefighters is that critics had charged an earlier draft was too broad, including people who had limited exposure to the toxins.
Family

Denver, CO

#7 Dec 12, 2008
Tony and members of the Wood TV 8 staff thank you for a story that wasn't slanted or in poor taste. Our family appreciates the comments and support from the community. Please contact your Senator for the future firefighter that is affected with cancer.
Union give me more

Hudsonville, MI

#8 Dec 12, 2008
Tony Tagliavia wrote:
@Union give me more:
Just to pass along more information, the reason that the bill references only full-time firefighters is that critics had charged an earlier draft was too broad, including people who had limited exposure to the toxins.
Thank you for that information. I just get really irritated when the brave men and women who put their lives on the line day and night, for free...as volunteers in both the fire service and law enforcement (reserve police officers and deputies) don't get the respect they deserve for their efforts.

Time and time again, they get left behind since they are not "career" public safety officers.

They don't do what they do...risk their lives doing the same job and taking the same risks as the career officers/firemen for wages and benefits. They do it for their communities.

And to see that volunteer/paid on call fire fighters are exempt from this bill (and reserve police officers/sheriff's deputies don't qualify for benefits if they die in the line of duty) really irritates me.

Thanks Tony.
GRR

United States

#9 Dec 12, 2008
First, my thoughts and prayers are with the family of Mr. Velzen’s family and the Wyoming Fire Department. He represented the city proudly for many years and his service should not be forgotten.

Now, I have to agree with the previous statement questioning why only full-time, 5-year veteran firefighters are covered by this bill. If the union truly was concerned about the health and safety of all firefighters, they would insist that there be no restrictions placed on the coverage. Unfortunately, it appears they are only concerned about the well-being of their union "brothers".

That being said, I am a career firefighter and I feel it is absolutely critical that this legislation get passed. But I sincerely believe it MUST include all firefighters. While many union oriented firefighters may not admit it, there are many volunteer firefighters in this area who fight more fire and therefore are exposed more often than their full-time union counterparts. In addition, these volunteers do this without being provided health insurance coverage and without significant compensation. I understand this bill will lead to local government incurring additional costs, but there should be no excuse to withhold protection from any individual who is willing to risk everything just so they can be there in somebody else's time of need.
dan

Deerfield, IL

#10 Dec 12, 2008
Union give me more wrote:
<quoted text>
Thank you for that information. I just get really irritated when the brave men and women who put their lives on the line day and night, for free...as volunteers in both the fire service and law enforcement (reserve police officers and deputies) don't get the respect they deserve for their efforts.
Time and time again, they get left behind since they are not "career" public safety officers.
They don't do what they do...risk their lives doing the same job and taking the same risks as the career officers/firemen for wages and benefits. They do it for their communities.
And to see that volunteer/paid on call fire fighters are exempt from this bill (and reserve police officers/sheriff's deputies don't qualify for benefits if they die in the line of duty) really irritates me.
Thanks Tony.
Reserve officers and deputies are a volunteer position. They choose to join and the decision is theirs. Since they are not officers, I can't say they die in the line of duty.

They are adults. If they want to take a side gig that has an element of danger, the risk is on them.
distant foe

Deerfield, IL

#11 Dec 12, 2008
There is no need for such legislation. If a FF was concerned about his respiratory system he/she has access to scotty air packs and other safety devices. Even a smoke charred room has over 400 different known carcinogans floating about. This is taught in every fire/arson investigation and yet I see FF's digging around debris without any such protection.

Self contained air...simple solution.
USAF Firefighter

Huntsville, AL

#12 Dec 13, 2008
Makes sense to support those that risk everything to protect you.

This should have been something handled many years ago.

Firefighter
12 year veteran.
USAF Firefighter

Huntsville, AL

#13 Dec 13, 2008
dan wrote:
<quoted text>
Reserve officers and deputies are a volunteer position. They choose to join and the decision is theirs. Since they are not officers, I can't say they die in the line of duty.
They are adults. If they want to take a side gig that has an element of danger, the risk is on them.
Dan,
move out of kalamazoo city limits, into a rural area with a volunteer fire department. when your house catches on fire, and no one comes to fight it...dont go crying to momma. It is the volunteers who strive to give the best service they can, for darn close to free.
Family

Denver, CO

#14 Dec 13, 2008
I understand the frustration of those affected with the paid-on-call firefighters. The union is not pushing to have this bill not protect them. That is the Chamber, MML, and other opponents. They are arguing against because the paid-on-call having less potential exposure to such carcinagins. We all need to support this just like the heart/lung bill.
BudtheFireman

Southfield, MI

#15 Dec 13, 2008
I think all FF's should be covered as well. But if we can only cover some right now, that will be a good start.

I think that the volunteer firefighter associations should be pressing for this as hard as the the FT ones.
USAF Firefighter

Huntsville, AL

#16 Dec 13, 2008
You have to start somewhere.

The car you drive today, wasnt invented 100 years ago. It was created over time, through hard work and getting ideas changed.

If they start with 5 year veterans, then down the road they can work on getting it to cover volunteers. Eventually all public safety employees could be placed under that law.

You have to start somewhere, to get the ball rolling. Then keep the ball rolling with more ideas.
Richard Cranium

Jamestown, MI

#17 Dec 14, 2008
distant foe wrote:
There is no need for such legislation. If a FF was concerned about his respiratory system he/she has access to scotty air packs and other safety devices. Even a smoke charred room has over 400 different known carcinogans floating about. This is taught in every fire/arson investigation and yet I see FF's digging around debris without any such protection.
Self contained air...simple solution.
Distant Foe,

You need to look at the big picture. Yes, we all have SCBA available with a clean supply of air to use in a fire. Yes, the air is free and we are careful to wear it at all fires. The problem is, and obviously you are ignorant to this fact, is that the carcinogens in the smoke become imbedded in our protective clothing and this bunker gear is used all day long throughout the 24 hour shift. I am a career firefighter at the same department Henry Velzen was at and we are issued just one set of gear. We can't wash it after every fire as recommended by the manufacturer as we are running an average of 15 or so calls a shift and need the gear for those other runs. The best we can do is leave the gear at the end of the shift for the oncoming crew to wash for us.

There is always going to be some level of exposure to carcinogens throughout a career in the fire service. We can minimize our risks with SCBA, but to say that firefighters can totally eliminate all risks by just throwing on an air pack is absurd.
Buckboy

Southfield, MI

#18 Dec 14, 2008
Just like the military, we need to take care of those who choose the hazardous jobs that we need done to live in a civilized society.

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