Firefighters Told They Can No Longer Work Shifts For Cancer-Stricken Colleague

Tanner Brotzel

A firefighter, Tanner Brotzel, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last December, and his fire department brothers immediately took action to ensure that the man would still receive his full paycheck while he received treatments for his cancer and spent time recovering. Brotzel’s firefighter crew from Saskatchewan, Canada took turns working Brotzel’s shifts for the past seven months while the cancer-stricken fireman spent time with his family and received necessary treatments. However, the fire crew was recently told they could no longer work Brotzel’s shifts and instead, the firefighter would have to return to work or file for long-term disability.

CTV News reports that when fellow firefighters found out that Tanner Brotzel was battling Hodgkin’s lymphoma last December, they immediately devised a plan to ensure the father could support his family with a paycheck despite needing time-consuming treatments. The crew members took turns working Brtozel’s shifts so that the cancer-stricken man could focus on his treatments, recovery, and his family. However, the shocked fire crew says that they have been told they can no longer work Brotzel’s shifts for him. Instead, the cancer patient will be forced to return to work in his sickly state due to the fact that long-term disability would not cover his full salary.

The fire crew says that the officials response is unacceptable with platoon captain Brian Seidlik noting that a 32-year fire veteran with the platoon is saying he is embarrassed to be a member of the department that would treat Brotzel in such a manner.

“We were notified this process would no longer happen. No more replacements. He would have to go on long-term disability or come back to work. Unfortunately, he is coming back to work. A guy that I started with 32 years ago said that this is the first time he has been embarrassed to say that he’s a firefighter, because of this action.”

Officials for the department note that the request for the crew to stop picking up shifts comes as they feel it could hinder Brotzel’s ability to gain access to his full benefits of disability later on. Fire Chief Ernie Polsom says that Brotzel will find it “more helpful in the long-run” if he applies for the city’s “comprehensive health benefits” and uses them “to their fullest.” However, Seidlik says the platoon wanted to do more because the benefits for long-term disability could take months to kick in and would be less than his full pay.

It is noted that department policy allows for fellow crew members to pickup shifts for other workers; however, Polsom says it is meant to be a “short-term” fix not long-term.

What do you think about the fire department’s decision to not allow other firefighters to pickup Tanner Brotzel’s shifts as he battles his cancer?

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