Last month, the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA) published On-Duty Deaths of Fire-Police Officers, 1991-2010, a report that identified 68 instances of fire police officers in the United States suffering fatal injuries while on duty. According to the report, all of the victims were members of volunteer fire departments.
Fire police assist public safety agencies by performing traffic incident management duties at the scene of emergencies, drills and planned special events. The fatal injuries identified in the report occurred in nine different states, with the bulk occurring in Pennsylvania (30) and New York (22).
Click here to download the report.
Firefighters and police officers who suffer fatal injuries while performing traffic incident management duties qualify for the Public Safety Officers Benefit (PSOB), a one-time federal payment to the surviving family of a public safety officer killed in the line of duty. Historically, fire police officers have qualified for PSOB as well, but in recent determinations the Department of Justice, which administers the benefit, has ruled that unless they qualify as a firefighter or police officer, a fire police officer killed in the line of duty is not eligible for PSOB.
Fire police officers perform a vital public safety function. In those rare, unfortunate instances where fire police officers are killed in the line of duty their families should be eligible to receive PSOB, just like the families of police officers or firefighters who are killed performing the exact same duties.
The Fire Police Fairness Act (H.R. 1348/S. 1315) establishes “fire police officer(s)” – defined as an individual who, “is serving in accordance with State or local law as an officially recognized or designated member of a legally organized public safety agency…” and “provides scene security or directs traffic in response to any fire drill, fire call, or other fire, rescue, or police emergency; or at a planned special event” – as public safety officers.
The National Volunteer Fire Council supports the Fire Police Fairness Act.