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Please Note: This Site Is Currently Being Upgraded - If it looks a little sparse, it is because content is still being transferred from the old site.  Thank you for understanding

The Cancer Presumption Under Attack
Written by John A. Ferrone Esq.   
Public safety officers have the cancer presumption. If the officer is exposed to known carcinogens and the cancer arises or manifests itself during the officer’s employment, the cancer is presumed work related. The attack on the cancer presumption is on proving the exposures were to “known carcinogens”. 

The cancer safety presumption is set forth in Labor Code section 3212.1(d). The law states:
“The cancer so developing or manifesting itself in these cases shall be presumed to arise out of and in the course of employment. This presumption is disputable and may be controverted by evidence that the primary site of the cancer has been established and that the carcinogen to which the member has demonstrated exposure is not reasonably linked to the disabling cancer. Unless so controverted, the appeals board is bound to find in accordance with the presumption.”

The WCAB has held in Faust v. WCAB the injured worker must establish the following:
He or she is an active fire fighter;
The injured officer must demonstrate exposure to a known carcinogen as defined by the International Agency for Research on Cancer (IARC);
The cancer has developed or manifested itself during the period when the injured officer was in active service.  

Once the officer has demonstrated his/her burden of prof, the presumption arises and the burden shifts to the employer. To rebut the presumption, the employer must show:
Evidence that the primary site of the cancer has been established; and 
That the exposure to the known carcinogens is not reasonably linked to the disabling cancer.

In a recent case Fain v. WCAB, the 5th District Court of Appeal held a widow of a Fresno police officer did not prove that her husband’s fatal brain cancer arose from work. While the case was not published or certified thereby limiting any precedent, the decision reveals an important element an officer must prove to be entitled to the cancer presumption. 

In Fain, the Court found the injured police officer did not show an exposure to a known carcinogen. The list of known carcinogens is outlined in the IARC Monographs on the Evaluation of Carcinogenic Risk to Humans. The IARC breaks down the classifications into different groups 1-4. Group 1 outlines agents that are carcinogenic to humans. Examples include the following:
Sulfuric acid
Carbon dioxide

Group 2A and 2B outlines agents that are probably and possibly carcinogenic to humans. Examples include:
Lead compounds
Diesel engine exhaust
Household combustion 
Engine exhaust and gasoline

Firefighters are, at times, directly exposed to known carcinogens- hydrocarbons and benzene, in the suppression of fires. However, firefighters must document still document exposures given the fact the employers will litigate the issue. Examples of exposures to known carcinogens are:
Car fires- Hydrochloric acid, Nitric acid, Benzene, Toluene, Carbon dioxide, Cadmium  
Structure or land fires- Benzene, Hydrocarbons, Hydrochloric acid, Sulfuric acid, Carbon dioxide, Methane
Diesel Exhaust- Benzene, Carbon dioxide

It is imperative fire fighters document the exposures. If the fire fighter responded to a car or structure fire, record the exposure as to the date and the type of fire. 

The reason for documenting exposures is simple. The injured fire fighter must prove exposure to a known carcinogen in order to have the cancer presumption apply. This fact proved to be the difference in the Fain case, where the Court of Appeal denied benefits, since the officer did not show an exposure to a known carcinogen. 
The cancer presumption is under attack by counties and cities. The employers are looking at every angle to deny an officer or dependent the cancer presumption. Currently, there is a challenge by the City of Santa Clara contending the cancer presumption is unconstitutional. 

We are confident the challenge will be denied. However, the primary attack by cities and counties in disputing the cancer presumption is challenging the public safety officer’s exposures to known carcinogens. It is therefore critical to record all exposures to carcinogens like fuel spills, car fires, and structure fires. 

Cities and counties have now subverted the purpose of the cancer presumption to force an injured public safety officer to endure lengthy litigation on the issue of exposure to a known carcinogen. Officers can block the current attack by carefully recording their exposures. 

About the Author - John A. Ferrone is a partner in the law firm of Adams, Ferrone & Ferrone. The law firm specializes in the representation of public safety regarding contract negotiation, grievances, internal affairs, officer involved shootings, workers’ compensation, retirement, and personal injury. The law firm has offices in Westlake Village, Newport Beach, Bakersfield, and San Diego.  If you have further inquires, please e-mail them to This e-mail address is being protected from spam bots, you need JavaScript enabled to view it

About Us - A Letter from the Editor
Written by Jeff Zimmerman   
jeff.jpgGreetings from the Editor and from the staff of Southern California Fire Journal. As we launch our first issue, please allow me to introduce you to our vision for the future. We, at Zimmerman Media believe in producing high quality products, and performing the best services possible for you, the customer. Southern California Fire Journal, our newest venture, will certainly be one of our flag ship projects. Southern California Fire Journal is a visually based magazine. Our photojournalism will be first class and our articles will be documentary in nature; submitted by a diverse group of professionals in the fire service. Our science and legal correspondents are the best in the business, so we will try to print as much content as possible to keep you up to date with industry standards. What we cannot put into the journal due to space limitations we will strive to put on the corresponding web site www.southerncaliforniafirejournal.com.

In So Cal Fire Journal you will find articles about large scale emergencies and the contingencies used to mitigate them.   Also covered will be paramedic issues, ground breaking research and science articles from leading industry professionals. On the lighter side we hope to have articles on travel, leisure and a wide variety of hobbies that firefighters are involved in.

With our custom web edition and our print based journal, So Cal Fire Journal will surely become a must read when it arrives at your doorstep. We have been designing this magazine for well over three years and now that technology and our budget have advanced enough to keep up with our business plan, it is time to pursue our latest dream: To enthrall readers and bring firefighters the latest news.

We won’t pull any punches when it comes to articles pertaining to firefighter safety and survival. Of course, we expect lively debates to ensue about some of our articles, but debate is good, it gets readers to discuss modern concepts about fire protection, and we welcome debate, which will further in depth discussions and research. We know there are lots of ways to suppress fires and all of our Departments have different SOP’S and guidelines, which is what makes firefighting so unique. Together, we can learn from each other’s successes as well as failures, and that is what makes this important reading material. Our varied ideas about fire protection lead us to understand that the more knowledge you have the better decision making process you will be capable of when you really need it.  Today’s fire-ground is a complex environment and with lawsuits on everyone’s mind there is little room for error or injury.

The Southern Cal Fire Journal web site www.southerncaliforniafirejournal.com  will also have the latest articles pertaining to the fire service and up dates on major emergencies, however they will be abbreviated and not as in depth as the printed journal. The web site is to act as portal for those who need news and information quickly. We will attempt to have as many links to other professional web sites as possible so that you can find almost anything related to the fire service at the touch of your fingertips.

We know there are many other sources of information, and hope to act as a clearinghouse for our readers. It is also our plan to develop a forum on our website to allow for frank discussion of pertinent topics.

Our contributing photographers, most of whom belong to the Emergency Photographers Network are some of the best in the business and have been on the front lines with many of you for years. At So Cal Fire Journal we will publish many compelling photos that other editors will shy away from.

At So Cal Fire Journal, we believe in dramatic photos that tell a story, even though they may be graphic in nature. Others images may be used strictly to record history. There are images of large fires going well back to the 1800’s, what a story they tell of the people and the era of the fire service!

Today’s talented photographers have the ability for immediate electronic transmission of their remarkable work, setting a new industry standard.  However, it takes more than a great photograph to earn the designation of a defining moment. Over the past 28 years I had some real defining moments as operations have gone well and sometimes, not so well.

Hal Buell has written an article about defining moments in News Photographer magazine, produce by the National Press Photographers Association. Hal States “The ‘defining moment photograph’ is almost always a moment of consequence that takes strength from it own reality but also from images that precede it and contribute to its power. Somehow these defining moments capture not only the subject of the instant but collect the past and peek ever so gingerly into the future”.

I can recall Mike Meadows amazing photographs of the Los Angeles Firefighters dangling from a parapet wall and an aerial ladder in North Hollywood at the tragic Cugees Restaurant Fire, Boris Yaro’s photographs from the Los Angeles Times at major emergency fires, Al Simons, Gene Blevins, Keith Cullom, Nate Rawner and Rick Mc Clure’s photographs in numerous firefighter publications. Let’s face it; the fire service creates some of the most dramatic images in journalism.  We will publish images that tell the story of the great work and the hazards that firefighters face on a daily basis across California.

Many good firefighting publications have had to close their doors over the years due to decreased advertising revenue and increased cost of distribution.  We will always endeavour to bring you, the reader, the most comprehensive and vibrant portrayal of the world of firefighting.  This is why it is vital that you let us know what you think, both with your comments, and with your subscriptions.  

We know that there is something for everyone in the Journal and on our website. Our advertisers are also a big part of our success, so please support them as well. We have asked each advertiser for a promotional code to get you discounts on purchases, so please let them know you are contacting them as a referral from our magazine.

If you wish to submit articles please feel free to do so. Remember that articles must be factual and relevant to the fire service. Please submit a short synopsis of approximately 500 words. If your idea is accepted by our staff we will contact you in a timely manner for a complete version. With this being said, it is time for me to get back into the field so that we can get you the best content imaginable.

Best wishes and stay safe.

Brother Jeff Zimmerman
Editor, Southern California Fire Journal