New Jersey legislators in the State Senate advanced legislation for the Garden State’s first responders and their families.
A bill backed by State Sens. Paul Sarlo (D-36), Patrick Diegnan (D-18), and Linda Greenstein (D-14) would provide benefits to the families of police officers who volunteered in the aftermath of 9/11.
Meanwhile, legislation loosening age restrictions for entering the fire service sponsored by State Senate colleagues Gerald Cardinale (R-39) and Mike Doherty (R-23) was advanced by the Senate Law and Public Safety Committee.
Protecting First Responder Families
The Sarlo-Diegnan-Greenstein bill was designed to help the families of those courageous enough to answer the call in the immediate aftermath of 9/11. The bill would provide accidental death benefits to a surviving spouse or child of a retiree of the State Police Retirement System who participated in 9/11 World Trade Center rescue operations.
“It wasn’t until long after those grim weeks at Ground Zero that we began to understand the health impact working at the site had on police officers and other volunteers,” said Sarlo. “It is only right that we provide officers’ families support after they made the ultimate sacrifice to support our country.”
Greenstein said the bill, released from the State Senate Budget Committee unopposed, would help the families of the “many officers from New Jersey made the trip to New York City without hesitation on 9/11. Sadly, for many, their selfless act of heroism in the face of terrorism ultimately led to years of health issues. The families of these officers, who eventually lost their battles with cancer and other illnesses, deserve support especially after the support they showed America.”
Extending Eligibility Age for Firefighters
The Doherty-Cardinale bill would allow firefighters to begin their time with the fire service at a later age.
The current system allows for firefighters to join the fire service between the ages of 18 and 45 in order to be eligible for an exempt fireman certificate. Under the bill, the maximum age would be extended 12 years to 57.
“This adjustment will make it more attractive for people to answer the alarm and serve their community as firefighters who are willing to put the demands of neighborhood and the fire company above their own,” said Cardinale. “Membership in the New Jersey State Firemen’s Association is a badge of honor for volunteers who have selflessly dedicated their time to the fire service.”