SC Firefighters Cancer Health Benefits Plan Distributes Nearly $1 Million in First Year

SPARTANBURG, SC (FOX Carolina) – Tracy Williams started in the fire department at a young age.

“They asked me if I wanted to be part of the junior program. Well, I said yeah just something new, getting ready to graduate from high school, I’m just going to try it. From that day on, I was hooked,” he explained.

That was nearly 40 years ago for the current Deputy Fire Chief and Fire Marshal of the Westview-Fairforest Fire Department in Spartanburg County.

“People need help and we are here to help them,” he said.

In 2009, Williams became the one in need after being diagnosed with cancer.

“I determined I had stage 3A melanoma, which meant it was in a lymph node,” Williams explained.

Research from the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) found that firefighters are at higher risk for certain types of cancers.

According to the CDC, cancer is the leading cause of death for firefighters.

“It certainly poses a risk in terms of exposure that the general public simply doesn’t see or encounter,” said South Carolina State Fire Marshal Jonathan Jones.

After a year of surgeries and chemotherapy, Williams returned full-time to the ward and to a job that more than likely contributed to his cancer.

“I never doubted coming back. I knew this was where I had to be,” Williams said.

Williams helped turn his experience into a statewide mission. He helped develop the South Carolina Cancer Firefighters Health Benefits Plan, a law that went into effect last July.

In the first year of the plan, about $900,000 in total was paid out.

“Firefighters give a lot of themselves to serve their community and their community’s difficult times. And the Firefighters Cancer Health Benefit Plan is a way for the state, which is truly their collective community, to serve firefighters in times of need,” Jones said.

The South Carolina Firefighters Cancer Health Benefit Plan includes the following benefits for eligible individuals diagnosed with an eligible form of cancer on or after July 1, 2021:

· One-time lump sum benefit of $20,000 upon initial diagnosis. This benefit is a single, lifetime benefit, for a single diagnosis of an eligible type of cancer, regardless of how many different diagnoses the claimant receives.

· Annual reimbursement of up to $12,000 for all out-of-pocket medical expenses due to the treatment of an eligible form of cancer, including any deductibles, copayments or coinsurance fees incurred. This benefit can be paid for separate diagnoses of different eligible forms of cancer. In no event will the total annual benefit exceed $12,000.

· Death benefit of $75,000, paid to the beneficiary of the deceased firefighter, for a firefighter who died as a result of cancer or circumstances resulting from cancer treatment.

Williams and the Westview-Fairforest Fire Department have also implemented new practices in recent years to help firefighters.

“We knew we had to change,” Williams said.

The fire department invested in a commercial washing machine, which now self-decontaminates on the premises, placed exhaust systems throughout the fire station, and more.

The health care plan also directs the state fire marshal to identify best practices for establishing employers’ cancer prevention with respect to protective equipment, decontamination, fire extinguishing devices. fire and fire stations.

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