Washington, D.C. - A bipartisan measure authored by U.S. Senators Pat Toomey (R-Pa.) and Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) to ensure fire police can receive public safety officer death benefits was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee this week.
The measure - based on the Toomey-Blumenthal Fire Police Fairness Act - was offered as an amendment by Senator Blumenthal to the Protecting America's First Responders Act during Thursday's Judiciary Committee markup. The amendment was approved unanimously by the committee, and the underlying bill now heads to the full Senate for consideration.
"Fire police enable firefighters, police officers, and medics to respond to emergencies quickly," said Senator Toomey. "They should receive the same public safety officer death benefits provided to other first responders who are killed in the line of duty. I am glad the Judiciary Committee has taken a step towards achieving this goal."
"Fire police officers are typically members of volunteer fire departments - and we have a lot of them in Connecticut - who perform scene security at the site of emergencies and special events. Under current law, they may suffer a fatal or permanently disabling injury in the line of duty, but they are guaranteed no eligibility for the public safety officer benefits program," said Senator Blumenthal. "This issue is one of basic fairness."
Fire police officers provide unique and varying emergency response services in several states, including Connecticut and Pennsylvania. Because there is no uniform national designation for fire police, many of these public servants face additional hurdles in accessing benefits that other public safety officers receive.