Document name
Firefighters
Document number
POL 03/2020

Effective date: November 15, 2019

Approved date: January 29, 2019

Application: Applies to all firefighter cancer and cardiac claims, regardless of injury date.

Policy subject: Decision making - Injuries

Purpose:

To provide guidelines for the adjudication of cancer and cardiac claims for firefighters.

DEFINITION

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Emergency response means those circumstances where firefighters attend a crisis situation including but not limited to a fire, motor vehicle incident, or other incident as part of their active firefighter duties.

Fire department means a fire department operated by a municipality or any prescribed local authority, cooperative or association.

Firefighter means a full-time, part-time, or volunteer member of a fire department.

Primary site cancer means the originating site of the cancer in the body.

Regular exposure means that the firefighter has been exposed to the risks and hazards associated with a fire scene(s), other than a forest fire, during the prescribed period.

BACKGROUND

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  1. The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013 (the “Act”) directs that unless proven otherwise, if a firefighter is or has been regularly exposed to the risks and hazards associated with a fire scene, other than a forest fire, and suffers from a listed disease, that disease is presumed to be an occupational disease, the dominant cause of which is the employment as a firefighter (Section 28).
  2. Throughout the years, the Act has been amended to include additional conditions presumed to arise out of and in the course of a firefighter’s service or employment. In 2019, the Act was amended to expand the list of presumptive cancers for firefighters and provide presumptive coverage to volunteer firefighters. The presumptions are also intended to apply to part-time firefighters of an urban municipality.
  3. For the cancer presumptions to apply, a firefighter must meet the minimum periods of employment prescribed in The Workers’ Compensation General Regulations, 1985 (Section 22.3).
  4. For primary site lung cancer to be presumed an occupational disease, the firefighter must be a non-smoker for a minimum period before the diagnosis (General Regulations, Section 22.4).
  5. If a firefighter suffers a cardiac injury within 24 hours after attending an emergency response, it is presumed to be an occupational disease, unless the contrary is shown (Section 28, Act, and Section 22.3, General Regulations).

POLICY

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  1. If a full-time, part-time or volunteer firefighter:
    1. Suffers from a disease listed below.
    2. Is currently serving or employed, or has served or been employed, with a fire department for a specified minimum period, and
    3. Is, or has been, exposed to the hazards of a fire scene, other than a forest fire, during their service or employment as a firefighter

the disease will be presumed to be an occupational disease predominantly caused by the firefighter’s service or employment.

  1. The following occupational diseases are presumed to be compensable if the firefighter meets the prescribed minimum period of service for a volunteer firefighter or employment for a full-time or part-time firefighter:

Occupational Disease

Period of Service or Employment

(Cumulative)

Brain cancer

10 years

Bladder cancer

15 years

Kidney cancer

20 years

Primary non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma

20 years

Leukemia

5 years

Ureter cancer

15 years

Colorectal caner

15 years

Lung cancer (non-smoking firefighters)

15 years

Testicular cancer

10 years

Esophageal cancer

25 years

Prostate cancer

15 years

Skin cancer

15 years

Multiple myeloma

15 years

Breast cancer

10 years

Cervical cancer

10 years

Ovarian cancer

10 years

 

 

 

Lung Cancer

  1. For primary site lung cancer to be presumed an occupational disease, the firefighter must be a non-smoker for a minimum period before the diagnosis. If the minimum non-smoking periods are not met, the presumptions will not apply and the disease will be considered under POL 04/2017, Injuries – Occupational Disease.
  2. There will be no minimum period of non-smoking if a firefighter has smoked in their lifetime:
    1. Less than 365 cigarettes, cigars, and/or pipes, or
    2. On average less than seven cigars or pipes per week.
  3. The minimum period of non-smoking for a firefighter prior to the diagnosis is:
  4. If a firefighter smoked cigarettes in combination with cigars and/or pipes, the minimum period will be determined in accordance with the above table. One cigar or pipe will be considered as one cigarette.
  5. Where smoking is a factor in an accepted work-related lung cancer claim, cost relief may be provided to the employer under POL 11/2017, Second Injury and Re-Employment Reserve.

Average consumption

Period of non-smoking

Less than 7 cigarettes per week

6 years

1 to 9 cigarettes per day

6 years

10 to 19 cigarettes per day

13 years

20 cigarettes per day

18 years

21 to 39 cigarettes per day

23 years

40 or more cigarettes per day

28 years

1 or more cigars and/or pipes per day

8 years

Cardiac Injury

  1. If a firefighter suffers a cardiac injury that manifests within 24 hours after attendance at an emergency response:
    1. It is presumed to be an occupational disease, unless the contrary is shown, and
    2. No minimum period of employment will be required.

Other Considerations

  1. During the adjudication process, full file development will be required for all claims, including cases where the firefighters’ presumptions may apply.
  2. A Medical Officer will be consulted before an injury claim for one of the listed presumptive occupational diseases is denied.
  3. If the criteria for the presumptions has not met, claims will be considered in accordance with POL 04/2017, Injuries – Occupational Disease. Decisions will be made on the real merits and justice of each case. This will include considering factors such as, but not limited to:
    1. Complete history from worker, including employment history, medical history, non-work related activities.
    2. Confirmation of employment and employment related exposure (e.g., fire scenes attended, excluding forest fires).
    3. Complete medical evidence/documentation.
    4. Medical Officer’s opinion on the nature of the disease, causative factors, and causal relationship between the listed presumptive occupational disease and the workplace, and
    5. Any other facts and circumstances relevant to the matter under consideration.

Appeals

  1. If a listed occupational disease for a firefighter was previously denied under former legislation, the firefighter (or dependants) can request WCB to reconsider the original decision. The request to reconsider previous claims will be considered by the WCB team responsible for the most recent decision (e.g., Claims Entitlement staff, Case Manager, Appeals Officer, Board Appeal Tribunal), before progressing to the next level of appeal (e.g., the Appeals Department, Board Appeal Tribunal).

Policy references

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Section heading

Legislative Authority

Section detail

The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013
Sections 2(1)(ii), 2(1)(r)(iii), 2(1)(aa), 20(5), 23, 27, 28, 187
The Workers’ Compensation General Regulations, 1985
Sections 22.3 and 22.4
The Fire Safety Act
Section 2

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Document History

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(1)    Bill 165, an amendment to The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013, added primary site prostate, skin, breast, cervical and ovarian cancer, and multiple myeloma into the list of presumptive occupational diseases for firefighters. It included an amendment to The Workers’ Compensation General Regulations to include minimum periods of employment for the additional presumptive diseases (effective November 15, 2019).
(2)    January 1, 2014. References updated in accordance with The Workers’ Compensation Act, 2013.
(2)    POL 06/2012, Injuries – Firefighters (effective May 18, 2011 to November 14, 2019).
(3)    Bill 174, an amendment to The Workers’ Compensation Act, 1979, added primary site esophageal cancer into the list of presumptive occupational diseases for firefighters (effective May 18, 2011).
(4)    POL 11/2007, Injuries – Firefighters (effective March 1, 2006 to May 17, 2011).
(5)    Bill 25, an amendment to The Workers’ Compensation General Regulations, 1985, added primary site ureter, colorectal, lung and testicular cancer, and cardiac injury into the list of presumptive occupational diseases for firefighters; an amendment to the Act to include a minimum period of non-smoking in cases of a lung cancer (effective February 28, 2006).
(6)    POL 09/2003, Injuries – Fire Fighters and Cancer Related to Combustion Gases (effective May 27, 2003 to February 28, 2006).
(7)    Bill 18, an amendment to the Act, identified firefighting as a high risk occupation and listed primary site brain, bladder and kidney cancer, primary non-Hodgkins lymphoma, and primary leukemia as presumptive occupational diseases for firefighters (effective May 27, 2003).
(8)    POL 25/78, Smoking and Respiratory Disease (effective May 10, 1978 to February 28, 2006).
 

Section heading

Complements

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