AB 1400: Employment safety: firefighting equipment: mechanics

Assemblymember Sydney Kamlager-Dove (D-Los Angeles), author of AB 1400.

AB 1400, sponsored by AFSCME and authored by Assemblymember Kamlager-Dove, addresses the need for critical protection for fire mechanics who are at higher risk of developing cancer. The bill was originally a presumptive liability bill; meaning the presumption on a fire mechanic who developed cancer would be that the cancer developed as a result of their work around carcinogenic material. The bill moved through the Assembly with bi-partisan support, before the Senate Judiciary committee became concerned about the lack of research on the prevalence of carcinogenic material at fire equipment mechanic worksites.

The bill then became a study of fire mechanic worksites in order to determine whether fire equipment mechanics face a significant risk of exposure. The study will include measurements of carcinogenic material exposure at a sample of worksites, as well as interviews and surveys with current and former employees on equipment use, knowledge of cancer incidence, and the frequency of exposure to materials.

The fire equipment mechanics represented by AFSCME are responsible for ensuring that California’s firefighters are able to carry out their duties and return home safely. However, the occupational hazard associated with being a fire equipment mechanic has not been given the due consideration under the law that it needs. These workers live daily with the uncertainty over whether a cancer diagnosis will render them unable to work and provide for their family. Diagnoses of cancer occur too often among these public servants for there to be no action taken. This bill begins the process of providing the protection fire equipment mechanics deserve.

The bill was signed into law by Governor Newsom on October 10th. AFSCME will continue to work toward the ultimate goal of providing these invaluable workers protection from financial hardship in the event of a health crisis.