President Bush Signs Hometown Heroes Act

President George W. Bush signed the Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefit Act, S.459, into law at a White House signing ceremony. The new law, PL 108-182, took effect immediately.

Under the new law, public safety officer benefits (PSOB) will be paid to the families of fire fighters and police officers who die as a result of heart attack or stroke suffered within 24 hours of responding to an emergency call or participating in a training exercise involving "unusual physical exertion." It is now presumed that the death was "a direct and proximate result" of the emergency response.

"The IAFF applauds President Bush for supporting this important legislation," said International Association of Fire Fighters President Harold A. Schaitberger. "We appreciated having the White House as a partner in pushing this initiative."

Rep. Bob Etheridge (D-NC) and Sen. Patrick Leahy (D-VT) filed companion legislation in the House and Senate. Combined H.R.909/S.459 attracted broad bi-partisan support, garnering over 300 co-sponsors between both chambers.

The original law authorizing a $50,000 PSOB was passed in 1976. Today, the benefit stands at $267,494.

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