Health & Safety

Firefighter Presumptions

Firefighters who become ill as a result of occupational exposures to hazards and the daily stress of the job, know that fighting for legitimate workers’ compensation benefits is often a stressful, expensive slog. From routine denials of treatment to flat-out stonewalling, employers manipulate workers’ comp to delay and deny essential treatment making it more difficult for firefighters to get back to the job they love.

One of the most powerful weapons in fighting back are firefighter presumption laws. A presumption law basically says that, for certain illnesses and injuries, the job-related connection is presumed, unless it is disproven by the employer. In essence, it flips the burden of proof in the workers’ comp process: Instead of you having to prove the job caused the illness, your employer has to prove it didn’t.

Since 1939, CPF has been fighting for presumption laws beginning with the Heart, Lung and Hernia presumption. In 1982, CPF led the way with a major milestone, winning the first in the nation firefighter cancer presumption. In 2019, CPF won the passage of a groundbreaking presumption for post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI), helping to break the stigma surrounding mental health in the fire service. 

Through CPF's dedicated work, the California state legislature has recognized the significant health hazards to all firefighters. The following laws have been implemented under the aggressive sponsorship and lobbying by CPF.

LABOR CODE SECTION (Workers' Compensation)

GOVERNMENT CODE SECTION (County Employees Retirement Law of 1937)