VALDOSTA, GA (WALB) - Firefighters in South Georgia are prepared to receive Cancer Insurance Benefits at the beginning of the year.
It's a new law will go into effect January 1st, known as House Bill 146, which was approved by the General Assembly this past session.
"How do you pay someone for the fact that they are willing to work every day, with the potential of their life being on the line," said Lowndes County Public information officer Paige Dukes.
House Bill 146, provides additional benefits to firefighters diagnosed with cancer.
Dukes stated that majority of the firefighters in the county are volunteers, and this makes a huge difference in their lives.
"This insurance is probably as much or more for the benefit of volunteers across our state, but Lowndes County is not unusual in that the majority of our force is made up from volunteers," explained Dukes.
The law is set to go into effect on January first of 2018.
Dukes said that the bill has received some backlash from people because it will cover most forms of cancer.
"It's unreasonable to think that every cancer that a firefighter could be diagnosed with is related to their employment, but there's no way to weed out the ones that are due to chemical exposure," said Dukes.
House Bill 146 inspired the Lowndes County Commission to approve thousands of dollars to prevent and decrease job-related cancer diagnoses.
That money went into self-contained breathing apparatus equipment.
"I don't think that there's a dollar amount that you can put on someone's life," said Dukes. "So, I think that this is a huge gesture. I think that it's a very positive thing that's been put in place statewide here in Georgia."
Dukes added that all firefighters- paid and unpaid- need this coverage.
"It's just best that regardless of the cancer, while the firefighters are working, they're provided this coverage," said Dukes.
Dukes concluded stating this is almost a way of saying thank you to all firefighters, paid or unpaid.