Bill filed to Help Arkansas Firefighters With Cancer Get Sick Leave

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NORTHWEST ARKANSAS, Ark. (KNWA) — A Fayetteville lawmaker is proposing a law that would provide more sick leave to Arkansas firefighters who have cancer.

Arkansas law doesn’t protect firefighters who are dealing with the catastrophic effects of cancer while still serving, but new legislation is pushing to authorize cancer-related sick leave.

On Wednesday morning, January 30, Representative Nicole Clowney (D-AR) introduced House Bill 1299, or Crump’s Law, named after a fallen firefighter who exhausted his sick leave and was forced to return to work in the weeks before dying of cancer.

“This would provide them up to one year over the course of their service of their leave to receive treatments,” Clowney said.

After more than two decades of fighting fires for the Springdale Fire Department, the sacrifices Bud Planchon made concerning his health caught up with him, according to his wife Jane Sexton Planchon.

Because the danger that comes with this type of work doesn’t end when the fire is out.

“It started out as colon cancer, but it metastasized to his liver at the time of the diagnosis,” Planchon said.

After five years of battling cancer, Planchon died in 2014.

“The initial hurdle, as far as my husband was — actively employed, but you’re having to miss work. For example, the surgery at Mayo we were there over 45 days,  and that’s not paid,” Planchon said.

Jane Planchon says this bill hits home.

“The firefighters were donating their vacation time. Some of those firefighters totally losing vacation because they were all being firefighter brothers — pulling together trying to assist our family.”

Now nearly five years after her husband’s death, Planchon hopes this bill will become law and save other firefighting families from the grief she still endures. 

“I think it would have assisted tremendously, just morale if nothing else. Plus the financial expenditures that we were facing,” she said.

The bill goes to a committee for an approval next.

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