Friday, April 12, 2024

Governor signs bills supporting firefighters

OLYMPIA — Gov. Jay Inslee signs two bills that aid in honoring deceased firefighters and assist in firefighter training. The two bills, House Bill 2091, and House Bill 2003 were created by request of the Department of Natural Resources, and the Washington State Patrol.

“This is inherently dangerous work. At some point in their career, every firefighter loses a colleague in the line of duty. Still, these heroes place their own lives and safety at risk daily,” said Rep.Dan Bronoske, D-Lakewood, the leading sponsor for both bills. “This memorial will be a somber, reverent place of solace for those who have lost a loved one. A place to honor those who have given the ultimate sacrifice.”

In Washington state more than 300 firefighters have been lost in the line of duty, according to Washington State Council of Firefighters records dating back to 1891.

The new law created by HB 2091 supports collaboration between the State Capitol Committee, and the Department of Natural Resources. The partnership will begin to develop and design the memorial which will be placed on the Capitol Campus in Olympia. HB 2091 establishes a new memorial to honor firefighters who have lost their lives in the line of duty. The bill also creates a memorial account to finance the construction and maintenance of the memorial. The initiative passed through both the Senate and House of Representatives with unanimous approval. 

“When a firefighter responds to a call, life property and the emotional wellbeing of families are all on the line,” said Bronoske.

The second bill signed into law under HB 1726 changes the process in which reimbursements for Firefighter I training expenses are managed within public fire agencies in Washington. Firefighter I training provides new firefighters with the essential skills they need to move into a career as a firefighter. The previous method of calculating reimbursement rates was based on a specific formula tied to the Washington State Patrol Fire Training Academy’s services. The bill grants authority directly to the Director of Fire Protection to establish rules concerning reimbursement. This centralizes the decision-making power to enable flexibility and adaptability in setting reimbursement rates to the needs of public fire agencies across the state.

The sponsor and supporters in the Washington Legislature and firefighting organizations said the bill aims to address the immediate needs of firefighters and streamline their access to crucial training resources so they may continue to safeguard communities. 

“When a firefighter responds to a call, life, property, and the emotional well-being of families are all on the line,” said Bronoske. “As a firefighter, I know this first-hand. We owe it to our firefighters to make sure they have easy access to the most up-to-date training so they can be as effective at their jobs as possible.”