oregon 139402 640

Do You Know the Rule? Or. Firefighters’ Presumption 

22 Aug, 2023 Chris Parker

oregon 139402 640

Salem, OR (workerscompensation.com). Under the firefighter’s presumption, firefighters in Oregon need not bear the burden of demonstrating that certain diseases were caused by their occupation, if certain criteria are met. 

When the presumption applies 

The presumption applies to non-volunteer firefighters: 

  1. Who have five or more years of employment as a firefighter; and 
  1. Are struck with death, disability, or impairment from a specified disease. 

Definition of 'non-volunteer' firefighter 

The presumption does not apply to volunteers, only to non-volunteers. “Non-volunteer firefighter” means a firefighter who: 

  1. Performs firefighting services; and  
  1. Receives salary, hourly wages equal to or greater than the state minimum wage, or other compensation (but the following compensation doesn’t count: room, board, lodging, housing, meals, stipends, reimbursement for expenses or nominal payments for time and travel). 

Types of diseases triggering the presumption 

The presumption applies when a firefighter’s death, disability, or impairment of health is caused by one of the diseases listed in the two applicable statutory provisions.  

ORS 656.802(4) - 1961 ORS 656.802(5) - 2009 
Any disease of the lungs or respiratory tract Hypertension  Cardiovascular-renal disease Brain cancer Colon cancer Stomach cancer Testicular cancer Prostate cancer Multiple myeloma Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma Cancer of the throat or mouth Rectal cancer Breast cancer Leukemia Bladder cancer Gynecologic cancer of the uterus, fallopian tubes, ovaries, cervix, vagina or vulva. 

Standard for denying claims  

In cases where the presumption applies, the claim is not automatically compensable. An employer may still deny a claim. However, to do so, it must satisfy one of the applicable standards, which are slightly different depending on the firefighter’s disease. 

ORS 656.802(4) ORS 656.802(5) 
The denial must be based on clear and convincing medical evidence that the cause of the condition or impairment is unrelated to the firefighter’s employment.  The denial must be based on clear and convincing medical evidence that the condition or impairment was not caused or contributed to in material part by the firefighter’s employment. 

Additional requirements in order for the presumption to apply 

ORS 656.802(4) ORS 656.802(5) 
At least five years of firefighting experience A medical examination at or after the time of hiring showing the condition was not pre-existing  At least five years of firefighting experience First diagnosed after July 1, 2009 If the condition is prostate cancer diagnosed after age 55, the presumption does not apply Diagnosis must occur no later than 85 months after the firefighter leaves the job  

Note: Even if the presumption does not apply, the claim may still be compensable if the firefighter can establish that it is causally related to his or her work. 

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