Sen. Klobuchar to join RFD Chief on Monday to discuss bipartisan bill to help firefighters with service-related cancers

(ABC 6 News) – U.S. Senator Amy Klobuchar (D-MN) is scheduled to join Rochester Fire Department (RFD) Fire Chief Eric Kerska on Monday afternoon to discuss bipartisan legislation to support firefighters diagnosed with service-related cancers.

The Honoring our Fallen Heroes Act introduced by Sen. Klobuchar and Sen. Kevin Cramer (R-ND) in the U.S. Senate and Rep. Bill Pascrell, Jr. (D-NJ) and Rep. Carlos Giménez (R-FL) in the U.S. House, would expand to federal support for the families of firefighters and other first responders who pass away from cancers caused by exposure to carcinogens while in the line of duty.

The legislation was introduced in honor of Michael Paidar, a St. Paul fire captain who also served with the Maple Grove Fire Department. Captain Paidar died of an aggressive form of Acute Myeloid Leukemia in 2020.

In 2021, after strong advocacy from the Paidar family, the Minnesota Department of Public Safety awarded line-of-duty benefits to Captain Paidar’s widow Julie, the first time that a firefighter’s family had received benefits for cancer incurred in the line-of-duty through Minnesota’s state public safety benefits program.

The Honoring Our Fallen Heroes Act would ensure that firefighters across the country are eligible to receive similar benefits under the federal PSOB program.