Firefighters Stopped From Working Shifts Of Cancer-Stricken Coworker

| by Maura Turcotte

Firefighters constantly show their strength and bravery while facing fires, but one crew in Canada showed their power in another way.

When Tanner Brotzel, a firefighter in Saskatchewan, Canada, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma last December, his coworkers stepped up to the task of covering his shifts so that he could still receive full pay and benefits.  

However, just seven months later, Regina Fire and Protective Services has prohibited the firefighters from helping Brotzel any longer. The Regina group told Brotzel he must either return to work or apply for long-term disability -- though its small benefits could take a long time to kick in, according to the Daily Mail.

"Basically long-term disability is an insurance policy if you don't have any other options," Brian Seidlik, the captain of Brotzel’s platoon, said to CJME. "It's 65 percent of your wage, which is still taxable, and then you still have some benefits that you have to cover out of that 65 percent. So all in all, you're probably looking at half your wage to live on while you're battling cancer in Tanner's case."

According to Fire Chief Ernie Polsom, he and the rest of the administration only recently learned of Brotzel's situation. They immediately had concerns.

"Despite the fact that I have absolutely no doubt it was done with the very best of intentions, what they did with this covering was the employer and our benefit provider had no idea that the firefighter was ill so they missed some really critical things," Polsom told CJME.

The firefighter, who was devastated when doctors discovered his cancer, has since decided to come back to work. His coworkers, though, are still incredibly upset by the actions of Regina Fire and Protective Services.

“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,” Seidlik told CBC, according to the Daily Mail.

Nonetheless, Brotzel, who is almost finished with his cancer treatment, remains incredibly grateful for the support.

“I don't know if I'll ever be able to make it up to everybody,” Brotzel said to CBC, reports the Daily Mail.

Sources: Daily Mail, CJME / Photo Source: Wikimedia Commons