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Governor Baker and the Legislature announced on Tuesday, March 28th, the signing of a mid-year supplemental budget bill that included a provision to permanently double the line of death benefit for families of first responders from $150,000 to $300,000.

This comes in the wake of the death of Watertown firefighter Joe Toscano, and the second anniversary of the deaths of Boston firefighters Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy.

It took only eight days for the bill to go from an idea to a reality, which is a testament to how much Massachusetts’ officials value our first responders. Governor Baker proposed the idea to House Speaker Robert DeLeo last Monday at a reception for legislators hosted by the Professional Fire Fighters of Massachusetts.

“And I got up to speak,” remarked Governor Baker, recounting his interaction with the House Speaker, “I looked around the room and I said to the speaker, ‘Do you think there’s a quorum here?’ And he said, yes, he thought there was a quorum here. And I said, well, then I think it’s about time we increase the line of duty death benefit from $150,000 to $300,000, what do you think? And the speaker said, ‘Done.’”

“We were there some two days before the burial of Joe Toscano, and I could feel in that room on Florian Hall the terrible feeling of loss,” DeLeo said. “Most of those people, most of those firefighters, didn’t know Joe Toscano. But I can tell you, they felt, I could see it in their eyes how they felt that they lost one of their own.”

The benefit is afforded by statute to any firefighter or police officer, whether their status is full-time or reserve, as well as public prosecutors, municipal or public emergency medical technicians and correction officers who are killed in the line of duty or who sustain injuries that were the direct cause of his or her death. The $300,000 benefit was made retroactive to March 15, 2017, which ensures that the family of Firefighter Toscano will be a recipient of the increased award.

Content from the State House News Service was used in this post.

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