CHARLESTON, W.Va. – House Speaker Tim Armstead, R-Kanawha, issued the following statement on today’s unanimous passage of House Bill 102, relating to the West Virginia Fire, EMS, and Law-Enforcement Officer Survivor Benefit Act.
“I’m thankful that the Legislature and Governor were able to come together and act quickly to ensure the families of the fallen Pratt firefighters receive the full benefits approved under Senate Bill 625,” Speaker Armstead said. “Our volunteer firefighters are vital to the safety and protection of communities across West Virginia, giving freely of themselves to help us in our times of greatest need. This bill makes sure that the families of those brave individuals who paid the ultimate sacrifice back in March receive the full benefits of Senate Bill 625.”
During the regular session earlier this year, the Legislature passed Senate Bill 625, which among its many provisions doubled the survivor benefits paid to families of fallen emergency services personnel to $100,000. However, the bill was not set to go into effect until June 8.
On March 26, two days after the tragedy in which two Pratt volunteer firefighters died, Speaker Armstead sent a letter to Gov. Jim Justice asking that a bill to make the benefits change effective retroactively be placed on any future special session proclamation.
House Bill 102 allows the bill’s increased survivor benefits to be effective retroactive to January 1, ensuring the families of the Pratt firefighters are eligible for those increased benefits.