Its about time.

Firefighters, police EMTs killed in line of duty now qualify for death
benefit
Line of Duty Compensation Act now law
By PAULA BARR
Daily Journal Staff Writer
Saturday, June 20, 2009
Gov. Jeremiah Nixon on Friday signed into law the Line of Duty Compensation
Act, which deals with compensation for families of law enforcement officers,
emergency medical technicians, or firefighters killed in the line of duty.

Desloge Fire Chief Larry Gremminger was among emergency workers who were
glad to hear the bill was signed into law. He was also glad it specifically
includes volunteer firefighters, because they often feel left out on their
own.

"I think it's an outstanding piece of legislation," he said. "We all do
understand that any time we go out the door - it doesn't have to be collapse
in a large fire, it could be getting run over at an accident scene, or heart
attack from heat stroke - we take that risk.

"We work for the community, for our neighbors and our families. When people
take the time to notice us like this, it means that much more to a volunteer
department."

In her freshman year as a state representative, Linda Fischer, D-Bonne
Terre, successfully added an emergency clause to House Bill 580, which
created the Act, allowing it to take effect immediately.

"This is one of the most important bills in my opinion that came through
public safety," Fischer said. "We made up a lot of ground that we were
lacking in relation to benefits in other states."

Fischer said she had been surprised to find that Missouri did not already
have a "line of duty" benefit. The education benefit offered by the state
was lacking, she said.

"This can be used for burial needs, expenses, education for the children -
however it will be best used for the family," she explained.

Nixon has been asked to do a second ceremonial signing on the side of the
state, she added.

The new law allows a claim to be filed with the Division of Workers'
Compensation within the Department of Labor and Industrial Relations on
behalf of a law enforcement officer, emergency medical technician, or
firefighter who was killed in the line of duty. The claim would have to be
filed no later than one year from the date of the death by the spouse,
dependent, or other specified person. Compensation would be $25,000 for
future claims.

Nixon signed the bill in a Kansas City fire station.

"These brave men and women put their lives on the line every day to protect
the citizens of Missouri," Nixon said. "Too many times, they have given
their lives in the performance of their duties. This financial benefit for
surviving family members is an appropriate way to recognize those who make
the ultimate sacrifice in the line of duty."

Kevin Ahlbrand, president of the Missouri State Fraternal Order of Police,
said police officers and other public safety personnel have tough, dangerous
jobs.

"As our officers put their lives on the line to keep Missouri families safe,
it's reassuring to know that the people of Missouri will be there to support
their loved ones should the need ever arise," Ahlbrand said. "Missouri's law
enforcement community thanks Gov. Nixon for his support of this legislation,
and we appreciate the bipartisan group of legislators who worked hard to get
this bill to the Governor's desk."

Mark Woolbright, vice president of the International Association of Fire
Fighters 2nd District, thanked legislators and the governor.

"Today, with the signing of this bill, when one of our own falls, it is
reassuring that the families of the fallen will receive the assistance they
deserve in their time of tragedy and need," he said. To determine eligible
claims, HB 580 defined "killed in the line of duty" and excluded deaths
resulting from willful misconduct or intoxication.

Any benefits paid under the new law are in addition to any other benefit to
which the claimant might otherwise be entitled.

http://www.house.mo.gov/billtracking...ly/HB0580T.HTM