Legislative Action Center

FFCA Top Priorities - 2018 Legislative Session
January 14, 2018 by Darrel Donatto

The Florida Fire Chiefs Association is currently tracking 63 bills that directly or indirectly affect our members. We have analyzed each of these bills and established a position on them (Support, Oppose, Neutral, or Monitoring).  Below is a list of our Top Priority Bills during the 2018 Legislative Session.

TOP PRIORITIES -  SUPPORT

HB 309: Fire Safety / SB 394: Fire Safety (SUPPORT) - This bill is a top priority for the Florida Fire Chiefs Association.  Firefighters are afflicted with cancer at a higher rate than the general population.  Moreover, the suicide, post-traumatic stress, and catastrophic addictions are increasingly taking the lives of firefighters.  We feel that education is the first step in reducing or preventing these risks.  In addition, we are seeking to promote a tobacco free fire service in the State of Florida by having prospective (future) firefighters sign an affidavit stating they will remain tobacco free for their tenure in the fire service. The bill amends Florida State Statute Chapter 633 to require training related to cancer and mental health risks for all career and volunteer firefighters seeking certification.   Such training must be a requirement for obtaining a Firefighter Certificate of Compliance, Volunteer Firefighter Certificate of Completion, or Special Certificate of Compliance. The training must include cancer and mental health awareness, prevention, mitigation, and treatment. The training must specifically include lifestyle, environmental, inherited, and occupational risks, and emphasize appropriate behavior, attitude, and cultural changes within the fire service. Currently certified firefighters shall have such training made available to them.  It is the Florida Fire Chiefs Association's strong desire that firefighter employers will provide this training to existing employees.  We will ensure that the information and mechanism to deliver it are all available. The bill requires certified firefighters to be a nonuser of tobacco or tobacco products for at least 1 year immediately preceding application and throughout his or her career in the fire service, as evidenced by the sworn affidavit of the applicant. Sponsors: Representative Bruce Antone (D-FL-046) & Senator Randolph Bracy III (D-FL-011)

HB 1295: Emergency Medical Services / SB 1796: Emergency Medical Services (SUPPORT)  - This bill is a top priority of the FFCA.  This bill accomplishes several things.

(1) The bill positions EMS to provide treatment and not transport patient to a hospital and to seek reimbursement for those services.  It does this by revising the definitions for Advanced Life Support, Basic Life Support, the term Emergency, Emergency Medical Technician, the term non-emergency, and paramedic.  It also revises 401.272 to allow paramedics and emergency medical technicians to provide alternative treatment options to non-emergency and urgent care patients.

(2) The bill eliminates the requirement for ambulances to meet the GSA KKK-1822F Ambulance Design Specification and moves the requirements for vehicle standards to rule.  It also eliminates the requirements to follow the  American College of Surgeons Committee on Trauma list of essential equipment for ambulances.  Instead, it allows medical directors to establish the standard for equipment to be carried.  It also provides for the use of telemedicine by EMS.

(3) The bill revises the requirements of 401.445 to extend immunity to those people (law enforcement) who are helping EMS treat a patient who is incapacitated due to intoxication, under the influence of drugs, or otherwise and who is being treated without his or her informed consent.

HB 695: Firefighters / SB 900: Firefighters (SUPPORT) - This bill entitles firefighters that receive a diagnosis of certain specific cancers to coverage, at no cost to the firefighter, under a group health or self-insurance policy. The policy must use the same health care network as all other employees, be available to the fighter for at least 10 years after leaving employment, and have a cash payout of $25,000. If the firefighter participates in an employee-sponsored retirement plan, the plan must qualify the firefighter as totally and permanently disabled if he or she is prevented from rendering useful and effective service as a firefighter and is likely to remain disabled continuously and permanently due to the diagnosis or treatment of cancer. The retirement plan must qualify the firefighter as “died in the line of duty” if he or she dies as a result of the cancer or treatment of cancer. If the firefighter did not participate in an employee-sponsored retirement plan, the employer must provide a disability retirement plan that provides at least 42 percent of annual salary, at no cost to the firefighter, until the firefighter’s death. The employer must provide a death benefit, for at least 10 years, to the firefighter’s beneficiary totaling at least 42 percent of the firefighter’s most recent annual salary. Additionally, firefighters who die as a result of cancer or cancer treatment are considered to have died in the manner described in section 112.191 (2)(a), F.S., for purposes of statutorily required death benefits. To qualify for these benefits, the firefighter must be employed by the employer for at least five continuous years, may not have used tobacco products in the preceding five years, and may not have been employed in any other position that is proven to create a higher risk for any cancer in the preceding years. For determining employer policies and the provision of benefits, a firefighter’s cancer diagnosis must be considered an “injury or illness incurred in the line of duty.” The bills also require the Division of State Fire Marshal within the Department of Financial Services to adopt rules to establish employer best practices for preventing or reducing the incidence of cancer among firefighters. Sponsors: Representative Heather Fitzenhagen (R-FL-078) & Representative Chris Latvala (R-FL-067) & Senator Jack Latvala (R-FL-016)

HB 2915: Firefighter Cancer Initiative (SUPPORT)- This bill is an appropriations funding request for $2,000,000 to fund the Firefighter Cancer Initiative at the Sylvester Comprehensive Cancer Center, University of Miami Miller School of Medicine.  The funds will be used to:  (1) Continue both data and specimen collection and analysis to improve understanding of cancer risks among firefighters (2) Increase access to cancer screenings for firefighters across the state; (3) Educate fire departments on cancer risks related to occupational exposures; (4) monitor potential carcinogenic exposures to identify which exposures account for increased cancer risk. Sponsors: Nunez ()

HB 227: Workers' Compensation Benefits for First Responders (SUPPORT) - This bill revises certain limitations relating to workers' compensation benefits for first responders and mandates that law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics are entitled to benefits under the Workers' Compensation Law for mental or nervous injuries, whether or not such injuries are accompanied by physical injuries requiring medical treatment.  This bill does not revise the burden of proof which would remain as "demonstrated by clear and convincing evidence." Sponsors: Representative Coach P Plasencia (R-FL-050) & Representative Matt Willhite (D-FL-086)

SB 376: Workers’ Compensation Benefits for First Responders (SUPPORT) - This bill revises certain limitations relating to workers' compensation benefits for first responders who experience mental or nervous injuries.  The bill mandates that law enforcement officers, firefighters, emergency medical technicians, and paramedics are entitled to benefits under the Workers' Compensation Law for mental or nervous injuries, whether or not such injuries are accompanied by physical injuries requiring medical treatment.  The current laws require that a physical injury must accompany any mental or nervous injury to be considered compensable under Workers Compensation.  After a committee substitute, this bill also changes the burden of proof to a preponderance of the evidence as opposed to the higher standard of "clear and convincing evidence." Sponsors: Book ()

HB 629: Workers' Compensation for First Responders / SB 126: Workers’ Compensation for First Responders (SUPPORT) - The burden of proof for workers compensation coverage of mental or nervous injury involving a first responder is currently “clear and convincing evidence.” This bill reduces the burden of proof to a preponderance of the evidence.  In addition, will provide for workers compensation indemnity payment for a first responder who suffers a mental or nervous injury results in disability or death without an accompanying physical injury.  Currently W/C benefits are only provided if there is an accompanying physical injury. Sponsors: Representative Robert Asencio (D-FL-118) & Victor M Torres (D-FL-15)

HB 4031: University of Central Florida - PTSD Clinic for Florida Veterans and First Responders (SUPPORT) - This bill is an appropriations funding request to fund $1,975,000.00 toward the University of Central Florida - PTSD Clinic for Florida Veterans and First Responders. Sponsors: Miller ()

HB 285: Emergency Medical Services / SB 488: Emergency Medical Services (SUPPORT) - This bill exempts a governmental entity that maintains fire rescue infrastructure and provides first responders as defined in s.112.1815 from the requirement of obtaining a certificate of public convenience and necessity or any other authorization from a county to provide advanced life support nontransport services.  The exception to the certificate of public convenience and necessity requirement does not apply to a county in which there is a countywide emergency medical services authority created by special act (Pinellas).  Sponsors: Representative Cary Pigman (R-FL-055) & Senator Denise Grimsley (R-FL-026)

 

TOP PRIORITY - OPPOSE

HB 1061: Community Association Fire and Life Safety Systems / SB 1432: Community Association Fire and Life Safety Systems (OPPOSE) - This bill requires condominium and cooperative buildings of three stories or more without fire sprinkler systems in the common areas to mark the building with a sign or symbol approved by the State Fire Marshal in a manner sufficient to warn persons conducting fire control and other emergency operations of the lack of a fire sprinkler system in the common areas. The bill exempts condominium and cooperative buildings 75 feet or less in height from any requirement to retrofit the building with a fire sprinkler system or other engineered life safety system. The bill exempts condominium and cooperative buildings greater than 75 feet in height from any requirement to retrofit the building with a fire sprinkler system or other engineered life safety system by a two-thirds vote of unit owners.


 

For a complete list of the bills we are tracking click here: https://www.votervoice.net/FFCA/Bills

We welcome your comments, feedback, and suggestions on these bills or any other bill that we have not yet identified but that you feel should be on our list.  You may reply to this post or email us at Advocacy@FFCA.ORG

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