I may have missed this somewhere but have not seen it published.

Congressional Fire Service Institute Legislative Alert
May 16, 2003


Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act Passes the Senate Unanimously

In the early morning hours of Friday, May 16, the Senate agreed by unanimous consent to pass S. 459, the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act of 2003, which was sponsored by Senator Patrick Leahy (Vermont). The House of Representatives is considering identical legislation, H.R. 919.

The House bill, which was written by Congressman Bob Etheridge (North Carolina), has more than 200 cosponsors. Congressman Etheridge originally introduced his legislation in the 107th Congress. The bill passed the House by unanimous consent; however Congress adjourned before the Senate was able to consider the bill.

The Hometown Heroes Act extends the current Public Safety Officers Benefit (PSOB) Program to public safety officers who die as a result of a heart attack or stroke within 24 hours of being on duty, responding to an emergency or participating in a training exercise. Heart attacks and strokes represent a significant risk among public safety officers, accounting for nearly half of fire fighter deaths each year.

The PSOB Program currently provides financial assistance to families of public safety officers (fire, police and EMS) killed in the line of duty, as well as to officers permanently disabled while on the job. The death benefit is payable to the survivors of a public safety officer who "has died as the direct and proximate result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty." Unfortunately, in almost every incidence of death by heart attack or stroke, it is ruled that the heart attack or stroke was not a direct result of an injury sustained in the line of duty and the family receives no benefits even though the deaths were clearly triggered by the rigors of the job.

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