Proposed fire fighter law ignores mental outlook - WALB.com, South Georgia News, Weather, Sports

Proposed fire fighter law ignores mental outlook

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AFD Chief Ron Rowe (WALB) AFD Chief Ron Rowe (WALB)
ALBANY, GA (WALB) -

Despite an alarming increase in firefighter suicides, a bill to make cancer an occupational disease for Georgia firefighters, expressly leaves out mental health.

House Bill 216 would make firefighters eligible for workers compensation if a cancer diagnosis is proven to be work related. The bill specifically says that "psychiatric and psychological problems shall not be considered occupational diseases."

There haven't been many studies on mental health of firefighters, but their suicide rate is rising.

"Last year 113 firefighters in the U.S. committed suicide. There is a lot of mental and physical problems in this job," said Ron Rowe, Albany Fire Chief.   

The bill also says that heart and vascular problems will not be listed as occupational diseases, though studies show firefighters are more than 100 times more likely to die from a heart attack during a fire call. 

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