State panel OKs 24-hour workers' comp extension

Hartford - Amended Workers' Compensation coverage for firefighters and police officers passed the Appropriations Committee Tuesday and will now go back to the Senate.

The amended bill would extend Workers' Compensation coverage to cardiac emergencies occurring up to 24 hours after any training or fire duty.

Current law allows Workers' Compensation for a paid municipal firefighter or police officer who has a cardiac emergency while on fire duty, in training, at an accident or fire scene or at a public safety operation.

The bill does not change the requirement that the person pass a physical that shows no previous evidence of a cardiac emergency. If more evidence demonstrates that the work did not cause the emergency, the person would not be eligible for the compensation.

Before being amended in the Senate, the bill would have extended the timeframe for covered cardiac emergencies to up to 72 hours.

The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities and the Connecticut Council of Small Towns oppose the bill, state Rep. Peter Tercyak, D-New Britain, said.

Rep. Linda Orange, D-Colchester, said the bill would not affect volunteer firefighter companies. Those firefighters have their own coverage.

"So this actually does not interfere with volunteer firefighter companies and brings the standard up for paid firefighters," Orange said.

j.somers@theday.com

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