Governor Signs College Tuition Benefit for Fallen Federal Firefighter Survivors

Governor Jerry Brown has signed legislation that will bring some comfort and support to the families of fallen federal firefighters. 

Assembly Bill 2554, sponsored by CPF, and authored by Assemblymember Rob Bonta, ensures these survivors get the same education benefits available to local and state firefighters in California.

“We take the same risks on a daily basis that other California firefighters do,” said CPF 5th District Vice President Mike Massone. “Our members are on strike teams, responding in mutual aid. We’re all one team, one fight.”

Current law is clear that the survivors of local and state firefighters in California who fall in the line of duty have a tuition exemption from UC, CSU and community colleges in California. Recent legislation clarified that the exemption extends to survivors of those who die of job-related cancer. But the law was unclear about whether California’s federal firefighters qualified for the benefit.

“We need to make sure that survivors, whether it’s the spouse or the children, have the same benefits that every other firefighter in the state of California,” said CPF President Brian K. Rice. “This gives survivors peace of mind that there’s a portion of their lives that can go on.”

The legislation won unanimous bipartisan support in both houses of the Legislature prior to its signature by Gov. Brown.

“It’s the least we can do for these heroes,” said Assemblyman Bonta. “We should be doing everything we can for our firefighters, and federal firefighters should not be treated differently.”