Vilsack signs death benefits bill for firefighters

(Des Moines-AP) -- A bill that would give death benefits to the
family of a volunteer firefighter who dies of a heart attack or
stroke while fighting a fire or within 24 hours has been signed by
Governor Tom Vilsack.
The bill was prompted by the October death of an eastern Iowa
firefighter who suffered a heart attack while fighting a grass
fire.
The state denied death benefits to the family of Jim Richards,
an Oran firefighter, because the heart attack was not considered a
death caused by an occupational hazard.
The bill authorizes the state to pay a 100-thousand dollar death
benefit for emergency services providers not covered under public
employees' insurance programs.
The Legislative Services Bureau analysis said five Iowa
volunteer firefighters died in the line of duty from
1994-through-2002. The analysis says two of the deaths were
attributed to stress.

(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)