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Four-Year Campaign for Volunteer Firefighter Cancer Coverage Ends with Governor Signing

(10/22/17 – Albany, N.Y.) Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today signed legislation to deliver health care benefits to volunteer firefighters who have been diagnosed with certain cancers, marking the culmination of a four-year campaign by the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY) and its partners.

“New York is forever grateful to the 96,000 volunteer firefighters who selflessly put their own personal safety at risk in order to keep their neighbors and communities safe, Governor Cuomo said. “With this measure, we will provide these courageous New Yorkers the protections they need and the peace of mind they deserve.”

Currently, volunteer firefighters are eligible for accidental disability and death benefits through Workers’ Compensation if they are injured in the line of duty. Effective January 1, 2019, firefighters will also be eligible for health benefits to support treatment for life-threatening cancers.

Under the bill (S1411B- A711B), volunteer firefighters who contract certain cancers will receive access to tax free disability and death benefits. Specifically, volunteer firefighters diagnosed with lung, prostate, breast, lymphatic, hematological, digestive, urinary, neurological, reproductive systems, or melanoma cancer will be automatically eligible for health benefits if:

  • Upon entry to volunteer, a physical exam did not show any evidence of the cancers covered by this bill;
  • Individuals have at least five years of service fighting fire in the interior of buildings; and
  • The firefighter is currently active or within 5 years of his or her last active date.

Kenneth Pienowski, President of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York said, “This is a great day for New York State. Governor Andrew Cuomo and our elected representatives in Albany have acted to decisively protect those who protect the people of this great state. New York’s brave volunteer firefighters now have the protections and help they need in the tragic event of a cancer diagnosis. We are tremendously grateful to the Governor for his action. We also thank State Senator Joseph Griffo, Assemblymember Aileen Gunther, Assemblymember Anthony Brindisi, and Assemblymember Brian Kolb for their leadership and support through this entire process. Because of them, the future generation of volunteer firefighters will not have to face cancer alone.”

As the 18-year agency of record for the association, ABC Creative Group collaborated with FASNY’s PR firm Dan Klores Communications (DKC) and lobbying team at Albany Strategic Advisors (ASA) in a four-year campaign to drum up public and political support.

For its part, ABC created a microsite and produced two award-winning videos, which were sent to influential state legislators and media. ABC also manages FASNY’s social media platforms, which provided an outlet for engagement on numerous posts calling for letters to local and state representatives as well as the governor to get the bill passed.

In addition, the monthly e-newsletter and bi-monthly The Volunteer Firefighter™ magazine produced by ABC consistently delivered campaign-related content over the past four years.