California Professional Firefighters

Frequently Asked Questions

These questions are compiled from questions to the CPF staff and conversations with CPF members. The intention is to provide sources for local presidents and their officers to answer the most frequently asked questions. Where possible, answers are provided as sources and citations of state and federal statute and regulation, nationally and internationally recognized standards and authorities.

If your question is not on this list, or if you need more information, please email or (916) 921-9111.

Click on the links for access to the information on the Internet. CPF makes no attempt to give any legal advice or direction. An attorney should be consulted for legal advice.

What illnesses are presumed to be associated with firefighting?

The illnesses that are presumed for firefighters, according to the Labor Code, are:

The compensation, which is awarded for each of these illnesses, shall include full hospitalization, surgical, medical treatment, disability indemnity and death benefits.

In addition to the presumed illnesses, there is service-connected disability retirement for any firefighter covered under the County Employees Retirement Law of 1937, who becomes permanently incapacitated for the performance of duty as a result of a blood-borne infectious disease that can be demonstrated to be due to the exposure to blood or blood products as a result of performance of job duties.

Go to Government Code §31720.7 dealing with disability retirement as a result of exposure to blood-borne pathogens.

As with all legal issues, CPF encourages its members to seek legal counsel from an attorney familiar with firefighter workers’ compensation issues.

What is the meaning of “known carcinogen as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer” referred to in Labor Code §3212.1?

The International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC) is part of the World Health Organization. IARC's mission is to coordinate and conduct research on the causes of human cancer, the mechanisms of carcinogenesis and to develop scientific strategies for cancer control.

I am exposed to diesel exhaust on a daily basis while on duty. What are the regulations requiring the fire department to reduce my exposure to diesel exhaust?

Diesel exhaust is not on the list of known carcinogens. However, many of the particulates that make up diesel exhaust are. The Cal/OSHA regulation that regulates the amount of diesel exhaust is §5155. Airborne Contaminants.

National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) has documented extensive research on the carcinogenicity of diesel exhaust. That can be read as the NIOSH Carcinogenic Effects Of Exposure To Diesel Exhaust - originally written in 1988, updated in 1998.

All members are encouraged to continue to record exposures to diesel exhaust. In the event that the IARC recognizes diesel exhaust as a carcinogen, those exposure records will help should a member develop cancer.

See also: CPF-sponsored Personal Exposure Reporting System

When an injury is sustained in the line-of-duty causes death to a firefighter, what are the associated death benefits to the surviving spouse or family?

The Workers’ Compensation related death benefits are detailed in Labor Code, sections 4700-4709. There are additional benefits that the employer is required to pay if the death was due to willful misconduct on the part of the employer (Labor Code §4553); if the employer failed to secure payment of compensation (Labor Code §4554); and the surviving spouse or family has the right to sue the employer for proximate cause of death (Labor Code §4558).

Contact the International Association of Fire Fighters for information regarding federal Public Safety Officer Benefits (PSOB) and Public Safety Officers Educational Assistance (PSOEA) Program.

As with all legal issues, CPF encourages its members to seek legal counsel from an attorney familiar with firefighter workers’ compensation issues.