House Passes HERO Act to Address Public Safety Behavioral Health

On May 12, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act (H.R. 1480). The bill, which was introduced in March by Representatives Ami Bera (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and is a legislative priority for the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC), establishes a series of programs to address public safety behavioral health issues, including:

  • Establishes a grant program for peer-support behavioral health and wellness programs at fire departments and EMS agencies
  • Directs the U.S. Fire Administration in coordination with the Department of Health and Human Services to develop and make publicly available resources to be used by the federal government and other entities to educate mental health professionals about the unique behavioral health issues that firefighters and EMS personnel face
  • Establishes a system for collecting data on suicide deaths of public safety officers

“I’d like to thank the House of Representatives, and particularly Representatives Bera, Fitzpatrick, and all of the cosponsors of the HERO Act, for passage of this critical legislation,” said NVFC chair Steve Hirsch. “For too long the challenges facing our nation’s firefighters and EMS providers associated with behavioral health have been under appreciated. Enactment of the HERO Act will focus much-needed attention and resources on helping to address this critical problem. I urge the Senate to take up and pass the HERO Act quickly so that it can be signed into law.”

The bill will now go to the Senate. The NVFC thanks all of the volunteer responders and their supporters who took action to get the House bill passed by using the NVFC’s Legislative Action Center.