By Tasha Carvell

WASHINGTON, D.C. (KFGO) – Minnesota Democratic Senator Amy Klobuchar and North Dakota Republican Sen. Kevin Cramer have teamed up to introduce legislation to support firefighters diagnosed with cancer due to their service.

The bipartisan Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act would expand access to federal support for the families of firefighters and first responders who pass away from cancer caused by carcinogenic exposure and extend disability benefits to firefighters who become disabled due to cancer.

Currently, firefighters are only eligible for Public Safety Officer Benefits for physical injuries sustained in the line-of-duty, or for deaths from duty-related heart attacks, strokes, mental health conditions, and 9/11 related illnesses.

The legislation is being introduced in honor of Michael Paidar, a Maple Grove and St. Paul fire captain who died of an aggressive form of Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2020. In 2021, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety awarded line-of-duty benefits to Captain Paidar’s widow, the first time that a firefighter’s family had received benefits for cancer incurred in the line-of-duty through the state program.

The Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act would ensure that firefighters across the country are eligible to receive similar benefits under the federal PSOB program.