Law helps firefighters get cancer benefits

CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - A local firefighter was on the forefront of getting a bill passed that benefits firefighters.

Michael Palumbo, a veteran firefighter with the Beachwood and Willowick Fire Departments, is currently under hospice care. He spent decades battling fires and protecting others. The 49-year-old former firefighter was diagnosed by doctors in 2015 with brain cancer.

A new law that he fought for is named in his honor. It recognizes cancer as a work-related illness for Ohio firefighters. The bill gives sick workers the ability to claim workers compensation and have their medical bills paid for.

His brother, Mark, is also a firefighter and emphasized the dangers of being exposed to cancer-causing carcinogens. He said, "For a long time, you never thought the hazards and exposures that we go through, you would be diagnosed with cancer and unfortunately, right now it's at an alarming rate."

According to a study from the Center for Disease Control, approximately 22 percent of the general population develops cancer. The number of firefighters that become ill is startling. Approximately 68 percent of firefighters develop cancer.

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