Firefighters lobby for bill that would offer cancer treatment support

GRAND ISLAND, Neb. (KSNB) -- Firefighters across the state took to the stand to show their support for LB1189. It would provide benefits for firefighters who are faced with a cancer diagnosis.

LB1189 would give firefighters support through cancer treatments if they didn't have proper coverage. Local firefighters weighed in at the capitol/ (KSNB)

Studies show that due to contaminants and the smoke firefighters breathe in on a regular basis many are finding they have cancer later in life.

“So many man made products now that are involved in fires that burn quick, they burn hot, they produce gases. We're not just breathing them in, just the fact that they're touching our skin or they're getting near our skin. We're absorbing those so that's where all of this is coming from,” Firefighter-EMT Lonnie Mitteis said.

Mitteis is a Grand Island firefighter and is in recovery for bladder cancer that forced him to miss work for nine months during his treatments. He said he was lucky enough to have insurance through the city, but volunteer firefighters don’t have that luxury.

“I was a volunteer for 18 years,” Mitteis said. “When I was a volunteer and you have young kids and if this would have happened to me then, there would have been absolutely nothing for me.”

The bill would make it so cities and villages would pay for the stipend to help firefighters through treatment. There would be financial and physical requirements for people to be eligible. LB1189 is still working its way through the legislature, but has no further hearings scheduled at this time.