Fire fighters have a law entitling them to workers’ compensation benefits under a law written especially for fire fighters. NRS 617.453 provides for a rebuttable presumption that a cancer is work-related for fire fighters with 5 years or more of full-time, continuous employment if the person was exposed to a known carcinogen and the carcinogen is associated with the disabling cancer. This law also gives examples of known carcinogens and the disabling cancers that are linked to those carcinogens. The list of known carcinogens and the disabling cancers that are associated with them is not an exhaustive list, however. A fire fighter may offer evidence that another substance is a known carcinogen now, or that other types of cancers are also associated with a particular known carcinogen.
Unlike the heart and lung laws that provide for workers’ compensation benefits for fire fighters, the cancer law does not provide for a conclusive presumption that cancer is work-related. The employer of a fire fighter may offer proof that the cancer was caused by something other than exposure on the job to a carcinogen. Fortunately, there are new studies that are providing more data regarding carcinogens and the specific cancers caused by exposures. On April 15, 2015, the American Journal of Industrial Medicine, published “Risk of Cancer Among Firefighters in California, 1988-2007”. This study of almost 20 years of data is significant because it has information on cancer risk to modern building materials and the burning of plastics in home appliances, furniture and electronic, even when a fire fighter is wearing a self-contained breathing apparatus.