Gov. Ron DeSantis has approved a new grant program to help mitigate firefighters’ exposure to carcinogenic chemicals.
That legislation (SB 1092), signed Saturday evening, creates the $250,000 Firefighter Cancer Decontamination Equipment Grant Program within the State Fire Marshal’s Office. Chief Financial Officer Jimmy Patronis, who doubles as the State Fire Marshal, had named that legislation as one of his priorities for the 2020 Session.
“I applaud Governor DeSantis for signing Senate Bill 1092 which will now ensure Florida’s firefighters are provided with vital equipment, training, and supplies to mitigate exposure to cancer-causing contaminants,” Patronis said in a statement. “I thank our bill sponsors, Senator Aaron Bean and Representative Elizabeth Fetterhoff, for championing this critical legislation to protect these heroes from this deadly disease.”
Those $250,000 are slated to reset each year, with fire departments that need help procuring equipment, supplies, education training to mitigate exposure able to apply annually. The allotted dollars will come from the state’s Insurance Regulatory Trust Fund.
Patronis’ office will distribute the awards based on “the decontamination equipment and supply needs of the fire department, the financial needs of the fire department, and the level of nonstate matching funds proposed in the application,” according to the legislation.
Bean, a Fernandina Beach Republican sponsored the legislation through in Senate and Fetterhoff, a Deland Republican, carried it through the House. It received unanimous votes in both chambers.
“Floridians depend on their local fire fighters every day to come to their aid at a moment’s notice,” Bean said. “This legislation ensures that those firefighters receive the needed equipment and represents that we are there to keep them safe.”
“Florida’s firefighters are out there every day risking their lives making sure that we’re safe,” Fetterhoff added. “We need to ensure that they are taken care of as well by providing them the tools to protect themselves and their families. Thank you to Governor DeSantis for signing this legislation, as we will now be able to provide the equipment and other resources needed to protect Florida’s firefighters.”
The new program will kick in on Wednesday.