ALACHUA CO, Fla. (WCJB)- First responders are used to fighting fires, but now they're fighting to get a bill to the Florida house of representatives. Matthew Hinnant is a fire lieutenant and a representative of Fire Rescue Professionals of Alachua County. He went to Tallahassee for the Firefighters Professional County Meeting to support this bill and came back with a facebook post that's been shared almost a thousand times.
The video Hinnant posted on facebook shows how many first responders in a Miami-Dade Fire Department died from cancer caused by the carcinogens they experience in their line of duty. "Each set of gear is a firefighter form metro date that died from cancer", Hinnant describes.
"Walking through that line of gear was sobering, saddening, frustrating. It was like a punch in the stomach."
The display is in support of House Bill 857, a bill that grants firefighters support for health illnesses caused by the carcinogens in their work environment.
"We're dying of cancer which is why it's important for it to be heard so firefighters can receive support financially while undergoing treatment for cancer."
The bill is sponsored by 82 out of 117 of House of Representatives but it can't go through if the speaker of the house, Jose Oliva won't consider the bill.
"We're not asking for him to support the bill. We just need him to hear it".
We reached out to the speaker of the house who gave us this statement:
"The Florida House has overwhelmingly supported surviving spouses of first responders who died in the line of duty, as well as property tax exemptions for totally and permanently disabled first responders and surviving spouses. We take a backseat to no one in our appreciation for our firefighters and police. However, this is an issue best dealt with at the county level as each department faces varying levels of danger and exposure and counties are best equipped to tailor benefits to need within available resources."
Hinnant argues that rural counties would not be able to support this kind of medical coverage.