Senator John Unger (D-Berkeley) introduced two bills today in the state Senate for the purpose of honoring the efforts of volunteer firefighters and providing assistance to the families of firefighters and EMS personnel killed in the line of duty.
Senate Bill 90 would provide a $50,000 death benefit to the families or designated beneficiary of firefighters and EMS personnel who are killed in the performance of their duties. The “West Virginia Fire and EMS Survivor Benefit Act” would include both paid and volunteer fire and EMS personnel acting in the performance of his or her duties of any fire or EMS department certified by the State of West Virginia.
Senate Bill 92 would establish the “West Virginia Volunteer Firefighter Length of Service Act”. It is our intent that the Legislature provide compensation to volunteer firefighters for length of service. Qualification requirements include that eligible firefighters must be at least 60 years of age, have at least 20 years of active service credit as a volunteer firefighter in a fire department certified to meet the requirements of a fire department by the West Virginia State Fire Commission and the fire department must be a member in good standing of the West Virginia State Fireman’s Association for their members to be eligible recipients for compensation.
Also, the bill would provide that the State of West Virginia would have to provide for the administration costs during the first five years of the plan, after which the plan should be self-sufficient to handle any associated administration costs.
“These bills represent only a fraction of the appreciation the Legislature feels toward the brave men and women who protect their communities from fire and other tragedies,” said Senator Unger. “I believe these bills will help provide relief for families of firefighters touched by tragic circumstances and also help encourage more people to serve their communities knowing they and their families will be well taken care of in times of need.”
The bills were both referred to the Senate Finance committee for its consideration for passage before moving to the full Senate.