As a firefighter Robert Mabe is used to battling flames but last September his job gave him an unexpected battle, colon cancer.
“I’m relatively healthy, non-smoker, no family history but have been a firefighter for 17 of the last 23 years. So, we narrowed it down that there really is no other explanation for this cancer and me so young than job”, said Mabe.
Mabe has stage four colon cancer.
While undergoing treatment he is still working with the Trumann Fire Department.
A challenge many firefighters with cancer must do says Mabe, “We had people who were working till their death or home sick with a job-related illness who were going destitute and broke because they couldn’t pay the bills. It was horrible”.
This general session State Representative Nicole Clowney has been working with firefighters just like Mabe to pass House Bill 1773, also known as Crump’s Law.
The bill gives firefighters who have been with the department at least five years, 6-months of paid-leave for cancers that are related to the job.
“Now should they be diagnosed with one of these types of cancers they’ll be protected. They’ll have time to get better and return to work to serve the communities they love”, said Clowney.
Crumps Law with two other cancer related bills passed the state legislature last week.
Mabe says Arkansans should think of the bill as an investment in the firefighters who invest in their communities.
“You don’t spend 5 years at a fire department if you don’t love the citizens you serve. The community members should be happy for this because it helps retain those experienced firefighters that they might otherwise lose to the occupational cancer”, said Mabe.
Governor Asa Hutchinson signed HB1773 into law last Thursday, April 11th.