Excerpts from the ChicagoTribune.com:

Buffalo Grove officials announced Wednesday they are challenging a decision to award a full line-of-duty death pension to the widow of a 51-year-old Buffalo Grove firefighter, arguing not enough evidence exists that his fatal colon cancer was related to his work.

The full pension award for Kevin Hauber’s wife and their four children represented an unprecedented claim and marked the first award of its kind in Illinois after the Buffalo Grove Fire Department Pension Board determined earlier this year that his cancer was caused in the line of duty, village officials said in a statement.

But the board’s decision on a 3-2 vote back in March was made with the “absence of clear evidence or research proving that firefighting has a direct or indirect causal relationship with colon cancer,” officials said.

In announcing their appeal, Buffalo Grove officials said the only appropriate and fiduciary response was to challenge the pension board’s decision, which was reaffirmed by the board in May. Village officials estimated the full, 100-percent pension award would create an additional liability of $1.7 million compared to a 75-percent award that the Hauber family was qualified to receive.

Hauber, a veteran firefighter and paramedic in the village, died in January, roughly four years after being diagnosed with colon cancer. In the statement, officials believe a surviving spouse pension benefit equal to 75 percent of Hauber’s final salary is more appropriate than 100 percent.

The issue over Hauber’s death benefit touches on a volatile debate happening among local, state and federal lawmakers over whether cancer found in firefighters is the result of their work in the line of duty.

To that end, the National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH) began a multi-year study in 2010 of nearly 30,000 firefighters from departments in Chicago, Philadelphia, and San Francisco to better understand the potential link between firefighting and cancer. Researchers found the firefighters who were studied showed higher rates of certain types of cancer than the general U.S. population. Based on U.S. cancer rates, firefighters in the study had a greater number of cancer diagnoses and cancer-related deaths, which were determined to be mostly digestive, oral, respiratory, and urinary cancers.