The New Brunswick government introduced legislation on Friday that will make it easier for firefighters with cancer to get compensation.

Under the proposed changes, certain cancers will be treated as an occupational disease.

In the past, firefighters who were stricken with cancer had to try to gather evidence of the materials they were exposed to, said Rob Simonds, president of the New Brunswick Association of Fire Chiefs.

Having presumptive legislation is an acknowledgment that some types of cancer are prolific among firefighters, Simonds said.

The amendments to the Workers Compensation Act will also cover firefighters who suffer a heart attack within 24 hours of active service.

Both amendments will apply to paid and volunteer firefighters.

"We have a long and proud history of volunteer firefighting in New Brunswick. These individuals perform their work in extremely dangerous conditions," Labour Minister Ed Doherty said.

With files from the Canadian Press