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Firefighter who won workers’ comp claim under 2017 law dies

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A Phoenix firefighter who struggled with the city over a 2017 law expanding the list of cancers presumed covered by workers’ compensation died Sunday after a year-long battle with the disease.

Brian Beck Jr. was a 31-year-old, third-generation firefighter who was diagnosed in 2018 with stage IV malignant melanoma. His workers’ compensation claim was denied even though his cancer was covered in the 2017 expansion of the law.

However, after receiving an April 16, 2019, letter from the Attorney General’s Office, alleging “certain municipalities” weren’t adhering to the law, the Phoenix City Council overturned Beck’s denial.

United Phoenix Firefighters broke the news on its Facebook page on Sunday.

“Firefighter Beck is the second Phoenix Firefighter we have lost to job related cancer this year. He leaves behind a wife and three young children,” the Facebook post read.

The post said he will be memorialized by the Phoenix Fire Department as a line-of-duty death, but those details are still pending.

In March, Beck’s sister, Melissa Dal Pra, wrote to Sen Paul Boyer, R-Phoenix. Her brother had undergone multiple surgeries, two rounds of immunotherapy treatment, clinical trial injections, and after all that, they learned the cancer had spread to his brain. Beck had just completed 14 brain radiation treatments by the time she wrote to the lawmaker.

Beck was just one of several firefighters whose claims were denied, but his was the only case in Phoenix that was overturned.

In 2017, the Legislature passed a bill to expand the list of cancers that are legally presumed to be a result of firefighters’ workplace conditions. HB2161 sailed out of both chambers with nearly unanimous support from lawmakers who sought to protect firefighters across Arizona from the financial burden of diseases such as leukemia, melanoma and testicular cancer, among others.

Firefighters have alleged cities are not following the law.

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