Bill designed to help Barnes firefighters

BOSTON (WWLP) – It’s been nearly four years since the 104th Fighter Wing Fire Department became a civilian department. Now, a bill on Governor Patrick’s desk seals the deal to some key benefits for firefighters working there.

Barnes firefighters were unsure whether they had some basic benefits after the department transitioned from being a military department to a civilian one. Sen. Don Humason (R-Westfield) told 22News that the new law is important for those firefighters.

“This law was necessary to change, to protect the firefighters who were maybe at one point military members who are now civilians,” Humason said.

The bill will give Barnes firefighters the exact same benefits received by members of civilian fire departments across the state. Senate Minority Leader Bruce Tarr (R-Gloucester) praised the bill.

“It’s important that we take every opportunity to provide them the kinds of protection they deserve, and this bill is another example of that,” Tarr said.

If the bill is signed into law, firefighters working at Barnes will receive the same cancer presumption as those working in Westfield or Holyoke. This is a very unique situation, and state lawmakers 22News spoke with said they were confident Gov. Patrick would sign the bill, because “it’s the right thing to do.”

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