Local firefighters push for worker's comp for illnesses related to job

On the heels of a national push to extend health benefits for 9/11 first responders, local firefighters are calling out North Carolina lawmakers.

As it stands, firefighters in North and South Carolina have to go through insurance to pay for cancer treatments. 33 other states include certain cancers in workers' compensation.

Charlotte firefighter Jason Barringer knew his job came with risks, but he never imagined it would include stage two non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.

“Telling them was one of the hardest things that I've had to do…to actually tell them that, 'hey, Dad's got cancer,’” Barringer told FOX 46. 

The CDC recognizes inside that smoke are carcinogens like formaldehyde, asbestos and arsenic.

A study of 30,000 firefighters from 1950-2009 revealed a relation between firefighting and cancer with a new finding of excess malignant mesothelioma.


“Black smoke, man, you could see some of the flames shooting up out of there.” 

Barringer went through chemo therapy to treat his form of cancer. It's one of the types researchers say firefighters get more frequently than the average person.

“We're covered in soot after a fire. The carcinogens that we receive from the soot soak in through our skin and we develop multiple kinds of cancer.” 

It's because of this that other states have presumptive legislation that cover firefighters for certain cancers under workers' compensation, but the Carolinas are not on that list. 

Each state's presumptive legislation varies. Some cover firefighters who get cancer while employed with the city others have more broad or nonspecific language. Barringer believes firefighters in NC and SC deserve help after risking their lives and well-being to save others. 

“Doing my job for the community is causing me to have cancer.” 

Barringer says tests show he's currently cancer free.