The Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York, a not-for-profit corporation, works to improve the fiscal responsibility, efficiency and effectiveness of the fire district management through education, training and advocacy for commissioners and other fire district officials in the 57 counties outside of the City of New York.

NYS Legislative Platform

New York State GAP Coverage Cancer Legislation

Q: What is the purpose of Assembly Bill 711B/Senate Bill 1411B?
It provides volunteer firefighters with monetary assistance in the event they are diagnosed with cancer.  This is a less expensive alternative than providing VFBL/Worker's Compensation coverage for those believed to have contracted cancer from firefighting.  There was an initial estimate of a 150% increase in VFBL costs if coverage was provided under workers' compensation.  Thus, many self-insured counties had stated the extreme cost increase would force them to drop VFBL from their worker's compensation pool.  Furthermore, data from states with VFBL coverage, such as Pennsylvania, showed tha more than half the claims are denied as insurers aggressively challenged these claims.  Thus, the New York State Assembly and Senate worked with the fire service and the localities to craft a bill which would provide extensive coverage but meet the threshold cost needs of the localities.

Q: What are the benefits provided under the legislation?
A: There are three separate benefits, which are independent of each other
  1. The lump-sum benefit provides a payout for diagnosis of cancer based upon the severity of the diagnosis. For less severe forms of cancer there is a lump sum payment of $6,250.  If the cancer is more severe based on the guidelines of the bill, there will be a lump sum payment of $25,000.  This lump sum payment is drawn from a pool of $50,000 per firefighter which will be available if there is more than one negative diagnosis over th volunteer firefighters' lifetime.
  2. If the volunteer firefighter becomes totally disabled, the volunteer firefighter will be eligible for a monthly benefit fo $1,500 payable up to 36 consecutive monthly payments.
  3. In case of death, volunteer firefighters' family will be eligible fo an accidental death benefit in the amount of $50,000
        These benefits will not be subject to New York State income tax.

Q: Is this benefit available to all volunteer firefighters?
A volunteer firefighter will be eligible for the enhanced cancer disability benefit if the following three criteria are met:
  1. The volunteer has served for at least five years as a n interior firefighter as evidenced by passage fo the mas fit test which is required of all volunteer firefighters with an interior firefighter rating; and 
  2. Upon entrance into the volunteer service the volunteer firefighter successfully passes a physical examination; and
  3. The volunteer firefighter has a disease caused by an uncontrolled division of abnormal cells in any part of the body or a malignant growth or tumor affecting the lymphatic or hematological systems or digestive, urinary, prostate, neurological, breast or reproductive systems or melanoma.

Q: Why does the legislation only cover interior firefighters with at least 5 years of active interior firefighting service?
First, when addressing the cancer legislation with policy staff in the Assembly, the issue of a study focusing solely on volunteer firefighters was raised.  Although there have been numerous studies relating cancer to firefighting, those studies have only addressed the relation between career firefighters,who are all interior rated, and cancer.  The policy staff expressed concerns that if the position of the volunteer fire service was to have the same status as career firefighters, the bill should be narrowly tailored to mirror the coverage provided to career firefighters.  Secondly, working with leading experts on occupational cancer, it was determined that exposure to a toxin would generally take at least five years before, at the very least, a blood form of cancer would be diagnosed.  These two issues resulted in the bill to be more narrowly tailored to mirror the career firefighter provisions and to meet the likely heath issues associated with cancer and firefighting.

Q: Does the bill cover me through my entire volunteer service or just when I serve as an interior firefighter?
As long as you meet the requirements of the bill as of the effective date, January 1, 2019, you are covered under this bill as long as you remain in the volunteer service.  Once you disengage from the volunteer service, the coverage will stay with a volunteer for up to five (5) years after service.  After 5 years the volunteer has the option of keeping coverage by paying the premiums associated with the disability insurance.  Again, this mirrors the career disability benefits as they are able to keep their benefits for 2 years after they disengage from service.

Q: Do I have to prove that I got cancer from firefighting?
 There is no requirement that a volunteer prove he/she was in contact with a specific carcinogen.  It is assumed from the cited studies, which show interior firefighters are more likely to be diagnosed with cancer, that no further proof is needed other than proof of cancer.  Therefore, a volunteer who meets the eligibility requirements only needs to provide proof of diagnosis by a board-certified physician in the medial specialty appropriate for the type of cancer diagnosed that the volunteer has a designated form of cancer.  This information must then be submitted to the insurance carrier.  Also, unlike VFBL, your claim cannot be challenged.

Q: How do I know if I am eligible for the $25,000 or $6,250?
These payments are based on the severity of the cancer which must be shown by evidence from a board-certified doctor of the cancer.  For a serious for of cancer, which would allow for the $25,000 payment, there must be proof of one or more malignant tumors characterized by the uncontrollable and abnormal growth and the spread of malignant cells with invasion of normal tissue and that either;

(i). There is metastasis; and
1. Surgery, radiotherapy, or chemotherapy is medically necessary; or
2. There is a tumor of the prostate, provided that it is treated with radical prostatectomy or external beam therapy; or

(ii). The firefighter has terminal cancer, his or her life expectancy is 24 months or less from the date of diagnosis, and will not benefit from, or has exhausted, curative therapy.

It should be noted that when this legislative language was crafted, experts in the field of occupational health were consulted as to the proper guidelines for severe and non-severe forms of cancer.

Q: Is this bill retroactive?
No, the bill is not retroactive.  Since the protections are backed by disability insurance coverage, it will only cover those events that have yet to occur.  As we know, insurance does not pay for acts which have already occurred before receiving coverage.  But, prior 2019 active interior firefighter status will count towards the laws 5 year interior status requirement.  Thus, the clock does not start to tick for the volunteer's ability to meet the five-year requirement when the bill is effective.  For example, a volunteer who has three years of interior service prior to the effective date would only need to have two more years in order to meet the requirements fo the bill.

Q: Who pays for this disability coverage and how much will it cost?
The bill would require that any fire district, department or company to provide and maintain an enhanced cancer disability benefit insurance program for each eligible volunteer firefighter.  A similar bill was passed in Georgia and the cost estimates of that bill are $300 per firefighter for the required benefits.  Since New York State has a larger poo of eligible firefighters, there is an assumption that costs will be no more than the $300 per year/per firefighter presently estimated for coverage in Georgia.

Q: Does the bill have reporting requirements?
: Yes, the bill requires that any fire district, department or company whose member has received a disability payment under the provisions of this act to report such payments to the Office of Fire Prevention and Control.  The purpose of this section is to provide the fire service with further documented data as to the number of volunteer fire fighters diagnosed with cancer.  This will allow FASNY to review such incidents for potential future legislation.

posted 3/5/2018

When Will My Bill Be Considered By The Governor?

Since the Legislature is in recess until the start of the next session, all of the intervening days are "legislative days", meaning bills can still be introduced and acted on.  So even though session ended in June, they can introduce bills or act on them until December and can also return if they need to.  All bills that have passed both houses will need to be acted on by the Governor before they take effect.

The bill that is delivered to the Governor is one that passed either the Senate or Assembly first.  Normally, bills should be delivered to the Governor within 45 days of passing both houses.  But due to the volume of bills passing in June, bills are sent over in batches to the Governor.  A reasonable number of bills are sent at a time so the Governor can give consideration to all of the bills without being overwhelmed by all bills at the same time.  Once they are delivered to the Governor, he has 10 day to act on the bill (not including holidays or Sundays).  This process continues until December - until the start of the new session in January.  If he does not act on a bill within 10 days (while the current session is still active), it goes to the "10 day rule", which means if he doesn't veto the bill, it is automatically law.

Any bills that are still active (the ones he has not signed or vetoed) when the new session starts, go into the "30 day rule". If these bills are not signed within 30 days,  they are automatically vetoed, and he is not required to write a Veto Message explaining why he vetoed the bill.  This is known as a Pocket Veto.

Bills are selected based on their effective date and level of importance.


The Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York monitors important legislation that may affect the Associations Fire District membership. The Association has and will continue to work diligently to maintain a good working relationship with executive, legislative and judicial branches of NYS and National governments.

The Association of Fire Districts employs the Vandervort Group in Albany, New York.  We are fortunate that the entire staff lead by Todd Vandervoort is at our disposal and works diligently for the Association and the good of the fire service.  Co-incidentally the Vandervoort Group is also retained by the Association of Fire Chiefs which has provided us with a symbiotic relationship and has drawn the fire service organizations together.  In addition FASNY retains ASA Government Affairs who works closely with the Vandervoort group closing the loop and providing a potent legislative force representing all aspects of the fire service in New York State.


Your involvement and actions are helpful to our success each year. If you wish to be notified on the important legislative items needing action, please be sure to join the AFDSNY mailing list on the Home Page.


Legislative progress is regularly reported on the Home Page (Legislative Alerts) and tracked in more detail within the “Legislative Center” - Current Legislative Report / Scorecard section “of the website: Click here: http://www.afdsny.org/current_legislative_report_s.php or published in The Fire District Affairs.


While volunteer first responders throughout New York State belong to a variety of local, county and statewide educational and advocacy groups and organizations representing the fire service, they are strongly connected by their commitment to public service and desire to assist their neighbors. Additionally, they are united in their efforts to influence legislation which may positively or negatively impact the operation of fire districts and departments statewide.

The Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York is pleased to be sponsor for many of these initiatives and a supporter of all issues of united concern. The link below is the "2017 Issues of United Concern" supported by the Association of Fire Districts of the State of New York, Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, New York State Association of Fire Chiefs, Volunteer Fire Police Association of the State of New York. County Fire Coordinators’ Association of the State of New York, and New York State Fire Marshals and Inspectors Association .