This letter is in response to the Sun Journal editorial printed April 15 regarding a pending legislative bill to provide protection for Maine firefighters who contract cancer.
The editorial appears to be a regurgitation of a Maine Municipal Association newsletter that was recently circulated to oppose the firefighters bill; some portions seem verbatim. The editor apparently did not let the facts get in the way of his opinion. It appears the editorial was based on the “opinion” of a lobbyist.
While the concept of an editorial is an independent opinion, one might have assumed that facts would have had some importance.
The article characterizes firefighters as having generous pay and benefits, yet it is interesting to note that Lewiston’s entry-level salary for a firefighter with a family of four would qualify the family for food stamps. I guess that is considered a generous benefit.
Any attempt at being a balanced editorial would have mentioned that 28 other states have some form of legal recognition for a cancer presumption. Numerous independent studies illustrate the higher incidences of cancer among firefighters.
Regarding the high cost to municipalities, the editor failed to mention that the Maine Workers Compensation Board report of March 19 on LD 621 anticipates no cost increase in premiums, based on firefighter claim records covering 1999 to 2007.
While I can respect differing opinions, I certainly should expect that the opinions are based on the facts of the matter, not simply a personal view of the world.
The legislation provides for a rebuttable presumption for certain occupational cancers in firefighters. It is not a guarantee of claim.
Firefighters accept risk on a daily basis to protect the communities they serve. Shouldn’t the firefighters and their families have a safety net if the firefighters unfortunately contract a disease that can be proven to have been related to their service?
Firefighters are not looking for a handout, simply some sort of protection for their families. We ask that the editor revisit the facts on the matter.
Rick Cailler, Lewiston
President, Lewiston Firefighters Association

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