The “Thomas P. Canzanella 21st Century First Responders Protection Act”, named after the Professional Firefighter Association of New Jersey former President Thomas Canzanella who worked on the 9/11 “pile” and passed in June 2007, will modernize the workers’ compensation system in New Jersey.  

The Act ensures the meeting of the critical needs of public safety workers who are New Jersey’s first line of defense in the event of catastrophic emergencies, epidemics and terrorist attacks, and assures that those workers are not denied a level of support which is commensurate to the sacrifices they and their families make for the safety and wellbeing of the citizens of this State and the Nation. 

This new law reforms New Jersey’s workers’ compensation law to create a rebuttable presumption of coverage for public safety workers for certain illnesses. For firefighters, those with seven or more years of service who suffer an injury, illness or death caused by certain types of medical conditions would not be required to demonstrate causation or exposure before receiving medical benefits and financial compensation. Other first responders, including first-aid or rescue squad members, police, corrections officers, nurses, medical technicians, and other medical personnel, are also not required to demonstrate causation of illnesses, but are required to provide evidence of exposure.

Under previously existing law, first responders and firefighters had the burden of proving causation for their illnesses, which often required a significant expense of time and resources.

“The signing of the “Thomas P. Canzanella 21st Century First Responders Protection Act,” Firefighters, first responders, public safety workers, and their families in New Jersey will benefit in the event of an injury, illness or death in the performance of their duties,” said Dominick Marino, President of the Professional Firefighters Association of New Jersey. “

Governor Murphy also signed the “Bill Ricci World Trade Center Rescue, Recovery, and Cleanup Operations Act,” is named after Lieutenant Bill Ricci, a professional firefighter in Clifton, Passaic County, who volunteered to serve at Ground Zero after the terrorist attacks on September 11, 2001. Lieutenant Ricci was ineligible for an accidental disability retirement under previously existing law. However, through this act, members and retirees who volunteered for 9/11 rescue, recovery, or cleanup operations, like Lieutenant Ricci, will be eligible to receive accidental disability retirement.