Historic Legislative Wins

In 1938, ten IAFF locals in California came together in Bakersfield to form the International Fire Fighters of California – now known as California Professional Firefighters. In the more than 80 years since, CPF has led the way on every major advance touching the lives and livelihoods of firefighters. 

Laying the Foundation – 1938-1960

1939 — AB 640 – Heart, Lung and Hernia Presumption 
Inadequate or non-existent breathing apparatus in fire departments – along with overwork and continuous exposure – was causing serious illness and death among firefighters. Thanks to a united firefighter voice and strong labor advocacy, CPF helped win the nation’s second-ever firefighter presumption law.

1959 — AB 618 – Firefighters Right to Organize
When South Pasadena banned union organizing, CPF mobilized all of organized labor and its members to lobby pro-labor Gov. Pat Brown.  AB 618 made firefighters the first public employees with the right to organize in a union.

Groundbreaking Firsts — 1960-2000

1978 — Personal Protective Equipment Standards – Cal/OSHA
In 1967, Sacramento firefighter Edward Luttig was dragged unconscious from apartment fire — his outdated and defective canister gas mask engulfed his lungs, leaving him in a semi-conscious state for the next 23 years. Using its influence, CPF developed and pushed through PPE standards, including heat and flame tests for gear and SCBA standards. Saving Lives, Saving Jobs

1978 — SB 154 – Property-tax funding backfill for fire protection
The passage of the property-tax slashing Proposition 13 in June of 1978 left local funding budget holes that threatened public safety and firefighter jobs. CPF worked with GOP Sen. William Campbell to win an allocation of $400 million for local fire protection, saving hundreds if not thousands of firefighter jobs.

1982 — AB 3011 – Firefighter Cancer Presumption Law
The death of two L.A. County firefighters from the same extremely rare form of cancer in 1979 brought home the connection between firefighting and cancer. Prompted by a CPF Convention resolution, AB 3011 was introduced to secure workers’ comp protection for firefighter cancer. AB 3011 was the nation’s first firefighter cancer presumption law.

1986 — SB 167 – California Firefighter Apprenticeship Training Funding
Established in 1982, the California Firefighter Joint Apprenticeship Committee (Cal-JAC) had built a standardized candidate selection system and developed rigorous and focused training standards. Four years after Cal-JAC was founded, SB 167 put money into the system, providing important training dollars for every department.

1992 — AB 3198 – Establishing the California Firefighters Memorial
It was not enough to put California’s firefighter memorial just anywhere – it needed to be on the grounds of the State Capitol. Legislation promoted by CPF and authored by then-Assemblymember Rusty Arieas established the memorial, beginning a decade-long fund raising odyssey that  included additional bills establishing the Memorial License Plate and Tax Checkoff. The memorial was unveiled in 2002.

Securing Our Priorities — 2000 to Present Day

2002 — AB 1847 — Biochemical Hazard Presumption
In the wake of 9/11, the exposure risks facing firefighters were understood beyond simply cancer. AB 1847 was the first in a series of extensions to workers’ compensation presumption laws, later to include blood-borne pathogens (AB 2754, 2008). 

2007 — AB 220 — Firefighters Procedural Bill of Rights
Having been defeated by CPF in a ballot fight, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger made peace with firefighters, signing legislation to give firefighters the same rights enjoyed by law enforcement. AB 220 gives California firefighters the most sweeping workplace protections in the nation — a tribute to playing the long game and working across party lines.

2010 — AB 2253 — Dallas Jones Cancer Presumption Act
Having waged his own courageous battle against job-related cancer, ex-CPF Secretary-Treasurer Dallas Jones worked to expand cancer presumption to those whose illness didn’t show up until after their retirement. Though he didn’t live to see it, the law that bears his name protects firefighters up to 10 years after retirement. 

2014 — SB 1019 — Toxic Flame Retardants in Furniture
As indoor products have become more sophisticated and synthetic, the range of cancer-causing toxins firefighters are exposed to grew. SB 1019 required labels on all upholstered furniture requiring disclosure of these toxic products. Four years later, furniture containing these toxins were phased out entirely (Ab 2998, 2018)

2016 — AB 2164 — Protecting Higher Education for Fallen Firefighter Survivors
Having established a four-decade history of providing UC, CSU and community college tuition waivers for the children of fallen firefighters, some university officials sought to limit its scope by turning down waivers for non-traumatic line of duty deaths. AB 2164 ended this cruel practice, ensuring that all LODD children have access to the education benefit. 

2018 — AB 2380 — Restrictions on Private Fire Hand Crews in California
During several of the growing catastrophic wildfires, private for-profit fire crews — serving only insurers or wealthy individuals — were caught behind fire lines, endangering firefighter safety. AB 2380 implements statewide standards governing where and how these private crews operate in California.

2019 — SB 542 — Post-Traumatic Stress Injury Presumption
On the front lines, firefighters see things few can comprehend, and these can take their toll. With firefighter behavioral health a front line issue in the profession, CPF won passage of a groundbreaking firefighter presumption law, as well as confidentiality protections for peer support (AB 1116). The protections are the most comprehensive anywhere.

2020 — SB 1159 — COVID-19 Presumption
As front line medical responders, firefighters were among the first to be exposed to COVID-19, even before the scope of the pandemic became evident. After signing a temporary executive order providing workers’ comp protection for COVID-19 exposure, Gov. Gavin Newsom signed SB 1159, establishing the presumption in law.