Disability Protections Critical for Illinois Firefighters Battling Coronavirus

SPRINGFIELD – The Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois union, representing more than 15,000 members in 224 communities across Illinois, today issued the following statement in response to new emergency rules allowing first responders and other essential employees to receive workers’ compensation coverage if they contract coronavirus:
“Gov. Pritzker has shown time and time again in the last few weeks of this devastating public health crisis that he is willing to lead and embrace solutions to protect our health and safety. On behalf of the thousands of firefighters and EMT responders facing the unknown every day, we say thank you.
As of Monday, nearly 270 of our AFFI members had been impacted by coronavirus, with 84 of them testing positive and in isolation. Another 171 are currently in quarantine. These numbers continue to grow.
Our firefighters and EMTs are on the frontlines of our public health system. When someone has a medical emergency, a fire breaks out, a car catches on fire, a rail car leaks hazardous material, or someone is stuck in an elevator: we are there to help. We took an oath to protect our communities and are living up to it, even when we don’t know what personal danger we are putting ourselves and our families in at the end of the day.
This emergency rule change is an important protection for our first responders, so they know if they contract this brutal disease while putting their lives on the line for our safety and protection, they will qualify for worker compensation benefits. At a time when many local governments may be considering layoffs and cutbacks from the coronavirus crisis, our first responders need and greatly appreciate this latest protection.
In addition to the Governor and Deputy Gov. Dan Hynes, I want to thank House Democratic Leaders Jay Hoffman and Kathy Willis for stepping up to help provide this peace of mind for our first responders.
We will continue to fight this virus every day and put the public’s safety and health first. We will get through these difficult times and come out stronger together.”

Chuck Sullivan
Associated Fire Fighters of Illinois