We are available 24/7


Laws protecting civilian and military firefighters

In the United States, there are multiple laws and acts governing firefighting and the rights of firefighters. Perhaps the law with the greatest impact on fire department operations is the Fair Labor Standards Act, which regulates the hours firefighters may work before overtime must be paid and compensatory time, substitutions, early reliefs, and paid details, none of which are permitted in the private sector.

In volunteer service, this act places restrictions on the benefits personnel can receive and still qualify as volunteers. Without the Fair Labor Standards Act, the fire service would be very different in terms of compensation, staffing, hours, and personnel. This act also establishes minimum wage, overtime pay, recordkeeping, and child labor standards impacting workers in the private sector and in federal, state, and local governments.

The following are other important laws and acts firefighters should be aware of, as they directly affect their rights and career:

  • The Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970: Few professions are as dangerous as firefighting, and none of those has advanced life support standing by every time a person goes to work. Unlike commercial fishing, logging, and mining, the EMS systems turn what could be fatal firefighting injuries into survivable events. Under this act, employers are responsible for providing safe workplaces for their employees. OSHA's role is to make sure these conditions for America's firefighters by setting and enforcing standards and providing training, education, and assistance.
  • The Civil Rights Act of 1964: Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 forbids discrimination in employment on the basis of race, national origin, gender, and religion. It has had a huge impact on hiring and promotions within the fire service. Many departments have been under court-imposed or approved hiring quotas for decades. In some departments, promotions have been blocked for years as courts wrestle with Title VII cases. Title VII is also the tool of choice for attorneys who represent firefighters who are the victims of unlawful discrimination.
  • Americans with Disabilities Act: It is difficult to imagine a profession for which physical abilities are more important than firefighting. The enactment of the Americans with Disabilities Act in 1990 caused fire departments to reevaluate physical and mental requirements to make sure they do not unlawfully discriminate against those who have a disability while simultaneously ensuring that personnel can perform the essential functions of the job.

Unfortunately, military firefighters who struggle with cancer and other diseases as a result of their occupation have a difficult time accessing the VA benefits they are entitled to, as the VA does not currently recognize the connection between military service as a firefighter and disability. For this reason, the Michael Lecik Military Firefighters Protection Act was introduced in 2021 by Representative Abigail Spanberger.

The bill was named in honor of Michael Lecik, a military firefighter who died of multiple myeloma and whose VA disability compensation claim was rejected. If the Michael Lecik Military Firefighters Protection Act becomes law, the VA would have to recognize the connection between military firefighting and a series of diseases, including lung diseases, kidney cancer, heart disease, and bladder cancer.

If you are or were a civilian or military firefighter who was exposed to AFFF on the job and now struggle with a related disease, we encourage you to contact Atraxia Law, as we have the necessary experience, resources, and knowledge to help you find out whether you are eligible to file a claim and obtain compensation from the liable manufacturers. The process is simple and requires minimal involvement from you, as we understand how overwhelming suffering from a serious disease can be.

Atraxia Law can efficiently help you file your AFFF exposure claim

With over 35 years of experience in evaluating toxic exposure and personal injury claims, our expert team will gladly help you find out whether you are entitled to compensation if you are a civilian or military firefighter injured by AFFF exposure on the job. The only documents we will need from you are your employment or military records and your medical records. Eligible firefighters will be put in touch with a reliable, trustworthy attorney.