By a 10-9 vote on Wednesday afternoon, the Montana House Business and Labor Committee voted down Senate Bill 72, which would have provided medical coverage for firefighters who contract diseases such as cancer in the line of duty.

Chairman Mark Noland, a Republican from Bigfork, said that firefighters understand the risks of their chosen profession.

"They are choosing to take a profession, they're very good at what they do, but they do know they're going into this with their eyes wide open," Noland said. "We are so grateful to them that they choose to get trained and they choose to do those things. We're so grateful, we can't say that enough, but that is their profession, that is what they chose."

Democrat Casey Schreiner from Great Falls responded angrily to Noland's comments.

"I'm pretty disgusted Mr. Chairman and members of the committee," Schreiner said. "We're talking about public servants who put their lives on the line and walk into homes and buildings in places where none of nus would ever think to do it. And, we're putting politics ahead of lives."

Frenchtown firefighter Mel Holtz attended the committee meeting and expressed deep disappointment that the bill to protect firefighters had failed yet again after several tries.


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