BENTON, Ark. – Two years ago Friday, Little Rock Firefighter Nathaniel Crump passed away from stage four colon cancer. The last days of his life he was at work because he exhausted all of his sick leave.
His story led lawmakers to pass Crump’s Law earlier this year. It gives firefighters the ability to get disability and more sick time if they are diagnosed with cancer.
It’s something that could have helped Chad Launius. He’s been a Malvern firefighter for 15 years. In October 2018, he found out his career may have given him cancer.
“I had squamous cell carcinoma, which was in the base of my tongue,” Launius said. “They said it was basically from heavy smoke and stuff like that.”
He took six months to fight his own cancer battle.
“I ended up going through 36 treatments of radiation and 7 treatments of chemo.”
He’s much better now and back at work, but he almost exhausted all of his sick leave.
“I’m still recovering from it. I give out quicker than I used to,” Launius said.
Crump’s Law could have helped him during the diagnosis. The new law allows firefighters fighting cancer to get more paid leave.
Arkansas Professional Firefighter Association President Wade Marshall is still trying to figure out other ways to help firefighters with the “Firefighter Cancer Relief Network”.
“We ran into one of the problems passing this bill was worrying about the costs,” Marshall said.
This would allow firefighters from other stations to help departments covering shifts if they don’t have the budget to pay overtime.
“It doesn’t matter if it’s in Malvern or Walnut Ridge,” Marshall said. “If we have firefighters who are fighting to get better, we can help them out.”
Firefighter Cancer Relief Network is still in its infant stages. The Arkansas State Fire Chief’s Association and Municipal League are also working on implementing this.