PSOB Improvements Act Approved by House Judiciary Committee

On June 6, the House Committee on the Judiciary approved H.R. 4018, the Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Improvements Act, by a voice vote. The Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) program provides death and education benefits to survivors of fallen public safety officers and disability benefits to officers catastrophically injured in the line of duty. H.R. 4018, which the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) supports, was introduced in February by Congressman Michael Fitzpatrick (R-PA) and makes several changes to the PSOB program, including making volunteer and employee members of private, nonprofit EMS agencies eligible.

“In many rural areas, nonprofit fire and EMS agencies have been serving a community for one hundred years or more,” said NVFC Chairman Philip C. Stittleburg. “Volunteer firefighters and EMTs in private, nonprofit fire departments already qualify for PSOB while their counterparts in private, nonprofit EMS-only systems generally do not. H.R. 4018 fixes this inequity.”

H.R. 4018 also clarifies that public safety officers who suffer a vascular rupture injury in the line of duty qualify for PSOB under the Hometown Heroes Survivors’ Benefits Act. Hometown Heroes was enacted in 2003 and created a presumption that public safety officers who suffer a fatal heart attack or stroke in the line of duty are eligible for PSOB. Vascular rupture is a type of injury that is similar to heart attack and stroke and was intended to be covered under Hometown Heroes.

Now that it has passed out of committee, the next step for H.R. 4018 is consideration by the full U.S. House of Representatives, although if and when that might take place is still up in the air. The Senate version of the PSOB Improvements Act (S. 1696) was introduced last year by Senator Patrick Leahy (D-VT).

You can use the NVFC’s Capwiz service to contact your U.S. Representative and Senators to ask them to co-sponsor H.R. 4018 and S. 1696. The more co-sponsors a piece of legislation has, the greater the likelihood that it will be enacted. Contact your congressional representatives today and tell them to support the PSOB Improvements Act!