S-1445.2  _______________________________________________


                    SUBSTITUTE SENATE BILL 5411



State of Washington      57th Legislature     2001 Regular Session


By Senate Committee on Labor, Commerce & Financial Institutions (originally sponsored by Senators Patterson, Zarelli, Gardner, Costa, Roach, Constantine, Prentice, Winsley, Kohl‑Welles, McAuliffe and Rasmussen)



Describing occupational diseases affecting fire fighters.

    AN ACT Relating to occupational diseases affecting fire fighters; amending RCW 51.32.185; and creating a new section.




    NEW SECTION.  Sec. 1.  The legislature finds and declares that by reason of their employment, fire fighters are required to work in the midst of and are subject to smoke, fumes, infectious diseases, and toxic substances; that fire fighters are continually exposed to a vast and expanding field of hazardous substances; that fire fighters are constantly entering uncontrolled environments to save lives, provide emergency medical services, and reduce property damage and are frequently not aware or informed of the potential toxic and carcinogenic substances, and infectious diseases that they may be exposed to; that fire fighters, unlike other workers, are often exposed simultaneously to multiple carcinogens; that fire fighters so exposed can potentially and unwittingly expose coworkers, families, and members of the public to infectious diseases; and that exposures to fire fighters, whether cancer, infectious diseases, and heart or respiratory disease develop very slowly, usually manifesting themselves years after exposure.  The legislature further finds and declares that all the aforementioned conditions exist and arise out of or in the course of such employment.


    Sec. 2.  RCW 51.32.185 and 1987 c 515 s 2 are each amended to read as follows:

    (1) In the case of fire fighters as defined in RCW 41.26.030(4) (a), (b), and (c) who are covered under Title 51 RCW, there shall exist a prima facie presumption that:  (a) Respiratory disease ((is an)); (b) heart problems that are experienced within seventy-two hours of exposure to smoke, fumes, or toxic substances; (c) cancer; and (d) infectious diseases are occupational diseases under RCW 51.08.140.  This presumption of occupational disease may be rebutted by a preponderance of the evidence controverting the presumption.  Controverting evidence may include, but is not limited to, use of tobacco products, physical fitness and weight, lifestyle, hereditary factors, and exposure from other employment or nonemployment activities.

    (2) The presumptions established in subsection (1) of this section shall be extended to an applicable member following termination of service for a period of three calendar months for each year of requisite service, but may not extend more than sixty months following the last date of employment.

    (3) The presumption established in subsection (1)(c) of this section shall only apply to any active or former fire fighter who has cancer that develops or manifests itself after the fire fighter has served at least ten years and who was given a qualifying medical examination upon becoming a fire fighter that showed no evidence of cancer.  The presumption within subsection (1)(c) of this section shall only apply to cancers affecting the skin, breasts, central nervous system, or lymphatic, digestive, hematological, urinary, skeletal, oral, or reproductive systems.


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