“We try to keep all of our uniforms clean and in good condition. We want everyone who helps fund us to know that we appreciate our resources and take care of them.”
Last week, our staff at CCJR was able to tour the downtown Raleigh fire station with the Wake County Young Republicans. The firefighters were incredibly welcoming and excited to have us with them for the evening.They encouraged that we ask questions about their work, station, and equipment. Throughout our tour, each of the men on call that evening took a moment to speak with us and share their authentic enthusiasm for their job, work, and gratitude for the support of the Wake Young Republicans.
Firefighters play a vital role in efforts to promote public safety and like so many of these heroes, they are in
in need of good policies to support their work, especially when they embrace serious risks in the line of duty. One of the biggest concerns first responders face is health risks. They are exposed to dangerous chemicals on the job, and as one firefighter put it, they are “10, sometimes 50 times more likely to develop certain kinds of cancers” from their toxic environment in the line of duty. This does not include blown disks, back and muscle pain, or lung disease.
Additionally, when an alert for service goes off, they are ready and on the road in under 90 seconds. That means they go from deep, REM sleep to dressed and ready for work in less than 2 minutes. Overtime, that has serious implications on their hearts – heart disease, heart attacks, and irregular rhythm also pose serious risks to these individuals.
Currently, “North Carolina is one of only 7 states in the country without presumptive cancer legislation that provides coverage for Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics.” Meaning, rather than firefighters having to prove that their work environment was the cause of their diagnosis, the employer must instead prove that their work conditions did not contribute to their health problems.
North Carolina’s general assembly has passed many beneficial bills to help support first responders. However, there is still much work to be done. Initiatives still being pushed to improve the lives of these individuals include:
- “Continually working to improve retirement for fire fighters and paramedics.”
- “Continually working to establish Deferred Retirement Option Plan in the NCSFR retirement system for workers 55 years and older who remain on the job (Legislation introduced).”
- “Working to establish collective bargaining laws for public employees in the state.”
- “Working to improve presumptive heart and lung benefits.”
- “Increase representation on commissions, LGERS Board of Trustees and all other committees affecting our profession (A work in progress).”
- “Require city and county governments to give fire fighter and paramedic payroll deduction for their dues to the employee’s designated organizations.”
Many thanks to the Raleigh Fire Department for opening their doors to us! More information about legislation that impacts first responders can be found here: https://www.pffpnc.org/pffpnc-legislative-accomplishments/.