HARTFORD, Conn. (WTNH) — Lawmakers and firefighters from across Connecticut gathered Monday at the Hartford Fire Department Training Center for annual FireOps training.

The event, organized by the Uniformed Professional Fire Fighters Association of Connecticut (UPFFA), aims to give elected officials an understanding of the responsibilities and dangers of being a firefighter.

“It’s great because it bridges the gap between what you think we do and what we actually do,” James Erickson, deputy chief of training for the Hartford Fire Department, said.

Lawmakers put on the proper gear while fire services set up realistic scenarios, including a simulated burn, an extrication drill and the cutting of a roof prop.

According to UPFFA, this year’s FireOps training was more than just understanding the job of a firefighter. The association is looking for support from lawmakers for new legislation that would expand health coverage for firefighters.

SB937 and that would provide workers comp coverage for firefighters that contract certain types of cancers, cancers that have been identified to be job-related,” Peter Brown, president of the UPFFA, said.

One major concern among fire services is protective equipment. According to the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF), PFAS, or forever chemicals, have been found in firefighter protective gear. These chemicals are known to cause cancer. IAFF said the disease is the leading cause of death among firefighters.  

Brown said work is being done at the national level to find better ways to create protective gear without forever chemicals. In the meantime, this bill could make a difference in the care of those who protect communities across Connecticut.

“Obviously, we need to see where that bill is going to be in the legislature this year and how that’s going to matriculate, but I do believe what they’re asking for is something that we should be able to get in order to provide better services to them,” Democratic State Rep. Corey Paris, who represents the 145th House District, said.

UPFFA said similar legislation has already been passed in 48 states.