New Mexico Governor Signs State Presumptive Legislation

April 10, 2009 – New Mexico Governor Bill Richardson has signed a new law which will presume 11 cancers and five infectious diseases are work-related for fire fighters. The law also covers fire fighters who suffer a stroke or heart attack within 24 hours of fighting a fire. New Mexico is the 43rd state to enact presumptive legislation for fire fighters. The new law is effective beginning in July 2010.

On behalf of the IAFF, General President Harold Schaitberger and New Mexico Professional Fire Fighters Association (NMPFFA) President Emily Kane attended the signing.

“Governor Richardson has been a longtime friend of the fire fighters,” says General President Schaitberger. “The IAFF is pleased to have his support once again for such an important piece of legislation. Now, if any of New Mexico’s fire fighters get sick on the job, they will have the assistance they need without the burden of proving where and when they got sick.”

“The facts surrounding fire fighter exposure to carcinogens and other disease-causing agents really spoke for themselves,” says NMPFFA President Kane. “Once we started talking about this issue, it was amazing how much support we got. This is really a proud moment for us.”

After Governor Richardson appointed Kane to the Workers’ Compensation Advisory Council, she was able to educate other council members about why fire fighters are more susceptible to certain diseases and why they need coverage under workers’ compensation.

In August 2008, the council unanimously voted to send the legislation to the state senate for consideration. Still, SB 303 met with some initial opposition and was even voted down. But, after strong lobbying efforts by New Mexico fire fighters, one senator agreed to make a motion to reconsider. On the second vote, the senate voted 22-18 in favor. Later, the house followed the senate's example with a 58-9 vote.