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Public Statements

Public Safety Officers' Benefits Improvements Act of 2012

Floor Speech

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Date:
Location: Washington, DC

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Mr. FITZPATRICK. Thank you, Chairman Smith, for your time and your support and your leadership on this significant reform legislation. Your staff has been wonderful to work with. I'd like to give special recognition to Caroline Lynch and Art Baker, both of whom did a fantastic job on this bill.

Madam Speaker, I rise to urge my colleagues to support these needed reforms to the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Program. The Public Safety Officers' Benefit Act created the program in 1976 to provide benefits to the families of those first responders who die or become disabled in the line of duty.

For the past 35 years, Congress has affirmed its support for the program and these benefits. Now we have the opportunity, through needed reforms, to make the PSOB program even better. This bill corrects a tragic oversight in current law that unfairly excludes certain first responders.

My inspiration for this bill, Madam Speaker, is Daniel McIntosh. ``Danny Mac,'' as he was known to his family and his friends, was a veteran of the Bensalem Emergency Medical Services. Dan served numerous other Bucks County communities both as a paramedic and as a volunteer firefighter since 1993. He was a volunteer firefighter for the Point Pleasant Fire Company and had achieved life member status. He was a member of the Nottingham Fire Department, a newly sworn police officer for the Hulmeville Police Department, and was a TAC Medic for the Bucks County SWAT Team and for the Bucks County Hazardous Materials SWAT Team. As we can see, Dan's life was dedicated to public service, and he gave his life doing what he loved.

Danny suffered a fatal heart attack while in the performance of his duties as a member of the Bensalem Rescue Squad. Because the entity that he was working with was a nonprofit emergency medical service provider, his family has been denied the PSOB benefit. This is unfair treatment for those who put themselves in harm's way in service to their communities. This bill would change that and ensure that families like Danny's receive the benefits they deserve.

I recognize and I thank the McIntosh family for the sacrifice that they made to our community. I also recognize the legacy of Dale Long, a Vermont EMT, who was killed in an ambulance accident in 2009 and whose life has motivated companion PSOB reform in the Senate. I am proud to sponsor this legislation for them and for the loved ones of first responders all across our great country.

Finally, Madam Speaker, this bill includes numerous taxpayer protections and streamlines the delivery of benefits. Many of us came to Congress on the promise to make government more efficient and more effective, and this bill would do just that. Members supporting this legislation will be able to report to their constituents that not only are they being good stewards of the taxpayer dollars but that they are also improving a program that provides widely supported benefits to our Nation's first responders.

At this time, Madam Speaker, I note the support of many organizations for the bill, including the American Ambulance Association, the National Association of Emergency Medical Technicians, the National Fraternal Order of Police, the National Association of Police Organizations, as well as several rescue squads from across my home State of Pennsylvania.

I want to again thank Chairman Smith and Ranking Member Conyers for their leadership and for their support for this very important piece of reform legislation. I urge my colleagues to support it as well.

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