Volunteer firefighters and paramedics covered against occupational diseases

Fire brigade
Up to now, volunteers in the Belgian emergency rescue zones were not covered against occupational diseases. Due to the risks caused by the crisis brought about by the new coronavirus and to the recognition – by Fedris (Belgian Federal Agency for Occupational Risks) – of COVID-19 as an occupational disease for (career) paramedics, the Minister of Home Affairs and Security Pieter De Crem reached an agreement so that volunteers in the emergency rescue zones can be covered as well. During the Council of Ministers on the 25th April 2020, the Belgian Federal Government decided to consider them in the same way as their career colleagues are being regarded. This regulation applies to volunteer firefighters and paramedics in rescue zones.

Within the current context of the COVID-19 pandemic, this new insurance impacts on volunteer paramedics transporting patients suffering from COVID-19.
From now on they will have the same rights as career paramedics who were already recognized by Fedris as a group having a higher risk of being contaminated by the coronavirus.

The Draft Royal Decree provides, for the volunteers in the emergency rescue zones, acknowledged as victims suffering from an occupational disease, that they will be entitled to a reimbursement of their health care costs, to benefits for a temporary incapacity to work (incapacity of at least 15 days) and possibly to benefits for a permanent incapacity to work. This means that, as from now, volunteers in emergency rescue zones are covered against the risk of developing an occupational disease..

The victim can send in a compensation claim to his or her rescue zone by using the forms 601 and 603 (available on the Fedris website). These forms are to be filled in by the victim and a physician. If Fedris okays this, then the emergency rescue zone will be able to pay compensation directly to the victim. In that case, Fedris will subsequently pay back the amount to the emergency rescue zone.

This new measure will be enforced retroactively on the date of 11 March 2020, as soon as the Royal Decree is published. However, the compensation claims can be handed in as from now.

COVID-19 is acknowledged by Fedris as an occupational disease. The complete list of the activities and sectors for which COVID-19 can be recognized as an occupational disease and further information are available on the Fedris website : https://www.fedris.be/fr/FAQ_FR-Covid-19.