Hundreds of firefighters’ boots were placed in the courtyard of Florida’s State Capitol on Thursday in a powerful display meant to get the attention of lawmakers.
Firefighters placed 500 pairs of boots at the Capitol for several hours. Each pair represented a Florida firefighter that has died from or is battling occupational cancer, according to a press release from organizers. Some of the boots on display included pictures of fallen firefighters.
The display aimed to get lawmakers’ attention for legislation that would expand health and workers comp insurance coverage when a firefighter gets cancer. According to organizers, Florida is not one of the 44 states that provide presumptive coverage or benefits eligibility for firefighters.
Miami Dade Firefighter Colleen Buzzo says when she was out of work four months, she got nothing.
“There are some firefighters that don’t even have coverage from their insurance. And it’s very important because two out of three firefighters get cancer,” said Buzzo. “So we’re here to fight for that coverage for us because we have a 17 percent higher rate of getting cancer than the average person in the public.”
Legislation providing the coverage has cleared several committees but faces stiff opposition from cities and counties.