A bipartisan group of 31 legislators led by Representatives Ami Bera (D-CA) and Brian Fitzpatrick (R-PA) reintroduced the IAFF’s Helping Emergency Responders Overcome (HERO) Act, HR 1480, in the U.S. House of Representatives. The HERO Act is a crucial piece of legislation to address the real need for increased mental health resources within the fire service.
“Fire fighters and emergency medical responders repeatedly witness human trauma and scenes of devastation over the course of their careers. The cumulative toll of tragic experiences on fire fighters and emergency medical responders can lead to psychological injuries and even suicides,” says General President Harold Schaitberger. “The HERO Act will help ensure emergency responders receive necessary resources to assist in detecting, treating and preventing mental health challenges.”
The IAFF has long served as a leader in mental health wellness for fire fighters and emergency medical responders, and the HERO Act bolsters our commitment in four crucial ways.
- Establishes a new grant program to train fire fighters as peer counselors.
- Directs the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to develop new guidance for fire departments on identifying and preventing post-traumatic stress disorder.
- Directs the CDC to provide information to mental health professionals on the culture within fire departments and evidence-based therapies to treat psychological issues common to fire fighters.
- Creates a database to compile statistics on suicide among public safety officers.
The U.S. House of Representatives passed the HERO Act during the 116th Congress, which concluded last December before the U.S. Senate could take up and pass the bill.
The Senate companion bill will soon be reintroduced by Senator Jackie Rosen (D-NV). The HERO Act has been a priority issue of the IAFF, receiving a spotlight at the 2020 Legislative Conference, and will continue to be a top legislative priority in the 117th Congress.