A bill which makes firefighters eligible for workers' compensation coverage for mental or emotional distress if they witness the death of a colleague in the line of duty has passed the Connecticut House of Representatives with the strong support of State Rep. Christie Carpino.
“Under the proposed legislation, firefighters that witness the death of a colleague in the line of duty will be afforded coverage for mental or emotion distress suffered as a result. Every day, firefighters in our communities leave their families at home and put the needs of the public first by placing their lives on the line for complete strangers," said Rep. Carpino (R, Cromwell). “These men and women, many of them volunteers, face the real threat of losing life or colleague, but are also confronted with the prospect of needing to return to line of duty the very next day. We need to protect the health of our public safety personnel who risk their lives daily.”
Carpino spoke emotionally on the floor of the House of Representatives to explain the very real challenges faced by local firefighters. She relayed a tragedy that occurred in Portland to two of their firefighters. The two firemen, volunteers, were hospitalized – one with serious burns – but were lucky enough to recover. The emotional toll she witnessed on the department as they waited for news of their injured colleague’s inspired her to champion this bill.
To qualify, the diagnosis would need to be made by a licensed and board certified mental health professional.
The House of Representatives voted 143-to-3 in favor of the bill on Wednesday. It now awaits further action in the State Senate.
Carpino serves the 32nd District, representing Portland, Cromwell and part of Middletown.