Firefighters face many dangers, from burns to collapsing structures, but sometimes the greatest dangers come from smoke.
Firefighters are at particularly high risks of getting cancer due to the chemicals they inhale in smoke, which expose them to pernicious carcinogens. Gilbert Aguirre, who received a diagnosis of chronic myeloid leukemia in 2015, believed that he developed the cancer as a result of exposure to harmful chemicals in his twenty-year career as a firefighter in Goodyear, Arizona. Consequently, he filed a workers’ compensation claim with the fire department.
Initially, CopperPoint American Insurance Company, Goodyear’s insurer, denied his claim because they did not believe that Mr. Aguirre could prove the cancer was directly related to his job. The administrative law judge reviewing the case agreed, despite the fact that a medical doctor testified that Mr. Aguirre developed cancer “as a result of the exposure to carcinogens he experienced during his work as a firefighter.”
Happily, earlier this month, the Arizona Supreme Court stated that the court did not have enough information to allow the denial to stand, and Mr. Aguirre will have another chance to obtain workers’ compensation coverage for his leukemia.