Firefighters, families renew spark for firefighter cancer bill in Virginia

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RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — “I’m doing this walk for my husband. He battled four and a half years with cancer.”

Martha Creasy held the photograph of her late husband, retired Richmond Fire Marshall David Creasy, as she stood in front of the statue of George Washington on Capitol Square. 

“He lost his battle in October,” she said. “He took his last breath and we were holding hands.”

About 200 firefighters and their loved ones gathered behind Martha Creasy as they made their way to the Commonwealth Public Safety Memorial. They walked two miles, over the Manchester Bridge from Richmond Fire Station 13. 

David Creasy, who worked in the Richmond-area for about 50 years, spent the last years of his life advocating for firefighters diagnosed with cancer, presumably from working near so many toxins while on the job. He was moved to do this after his own terminal cancer diagnosis. Doctors found over two dozen tumors on his liver.

We spoke with David Creasy last year as he pushed for legislation that would add brain, colon, and testicular cancer to a list of diseases covered by the Virginia Worker’s Compensation Act. 

The costs were adding up for the Creasy’s since David’s cancer wasn’t covered.  

“Financially we were running out of money,” Martha Creasy added. 

The legislation was tabled to study how much it would cost to expand coverage. Sen. Mark Peake (R – District 22 ) was the sponsor at the time. 

“The great unknown is the cost, so the localities were very concerned about how much it would cost them to cover new cancers,” he explained.

There’s a revived spark, though, in the General Assembly to get it passed this year. Bills in both the Senate (SB1030) and House (HB1804) are gaining support. 

Gov. Ralph Northam (D – Va.) says this is not a partisan issue. 

“I don’t think you can put a price on someone’s life,” Gov. Northam explained. “Sit down and talk to one of these families that one of their loved ones, who’s a firefighter, has been exposed to these toxins and then has developed cancer. It’s a very difficult road to travel.” 

Lives are on the line and more needs to be done to protect them, firefighter families say. 

“Every single day, we’re having a firefighter diagnosed with cancer and that’s just not right,” Martha Creasy said. “We need help for these guys and ladies.”

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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