Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Collins and Carper introduce Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection Act

CONGRESSIONAL FIRE CAUCUS CO-CHAIRS INTRODUCE BIPARTISAN LEGISLATION TO HELP VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS NATIONWIDE

WASHINGTON (May 12, 2009) - In their continued support of firefighters nationwide, Sens. Tom Carper (D-Del.) and Susan Collins (R-Maine) introduced the Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection Act today.

This bipartisan legislation would prohibit employers from firing or disciplining volunteer firefighters or EMS personnel who were forced to miss work to respond to a presidentially declared disaster. First responders will no longer be required to make a choice between losing their job and responding to a presidentially declared disaster or emergency.

"This bill is especially important for a state like Delaware that depends so much on its volunteers' services," said Sen. Carper. "These men and women are everyday heroes who should not be punished for bravely answering the call of duty."

"This bipartisan bill is a matter of simple fairness," said Sen. Collins. "The Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection Act recognizes that our dedicated volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel are critical in times of disaster. By extending some protection to these brave men and women, we can strengthen the protection and life-saving response that they provide to many millions of Americans."

Communities across the country depend on volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services personnel to respond to major disasters. Current law offers these volunteers no protection against punishment by their employers if they miss work when called to respond to a national emergency. This means that firefighters or EMS personnel volunteering their time during major disasters such as 9/11, Hurricane Katrina or even the current wildfires in California, can be disciplined or even fired - all while they put their lives at risk to save others.

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