Congressman Rick Berg announced that he voted to pass the Public Safety Officers' Benefits Improvement Act. This legislation makes volunteer firefighters, emergency medical technicians (EMT) and other non-profit public safety officers eligible for federal death and disability benefits. Under current law, these benefits are only available to individuals employed by federal, state and local governments.
"The volunteer firefighters, EMTs, and public safety officers across our state and country selflessly put their lives on the line to save the lives of others," stated Berg. "It's important that we do all we can to make sure these brave individuals and their families are protected in case the unthinkable happens and a loved one loses their life or is disabled in the line of duty."
This legislation expands federal benefit programs for public safety officers to include officers employed as part of a nonprofit or volunteer organization, thereby making those officers eligible for federal death and disability benefits if they are killed or disabled while on the job.
Not-for-profit groups, such as volunteer fire departments and EMTs, have long pushed for expanded eligibility for benefits in cases of a death or disability that occurs in the line of duty. Many of these groups have pointed to state budget constraints that have resulted in an increased reliance on volunteer firefighters and EMT personnel.
The Public Safety Officers' Benefits Improvement Act unanimously passed the House. It will now be sent to the Senate for consideration.