CPF Legislative Efforts Target New Priorities and Unfinished Business
California firefighters won some important victories in Sacramento during 2018, the last year of the Jerry Brown administration. But with a new year and a new administration, CPF is re-engaging in areas left unfinished during the Brown years and move forward on ambitious new protections benefitting CPF members and all firefighters.
Post-traumatic stress presumption: Firefighters see horrors and stress few others can comprehend. These terrors – all “part of the job” – take their toll, and the impact can be deadly. Over the past two years, more firefighters have died by their own hand than in traumatic line-of-duty deaths. The critical health and safety threat of post-traumatic stress injury (PTSI) demands the same attention, and protection, as job-related cancer. CPF has introduced a PTSI presumption bill, and its passage will be a high priority.
Saving lives in the line of fire: When a madman unleashed terror on an outdoor Las Vegas concert in October of 2017, off-duty California firefighters put their lives on the line to render aid to the victims. In the course of going above and beyond the call of duty, 12 California firefighters were shot that night. Legislation approved last year provided workers’ comp protection for off-duty law enforcement in such circumstances, but protections for firefighters weren’t spelled out. CPF has introduced legislation to close this loophole to protect members who do their duty wherever it calls them.
Community paramedicine: With emergency room overcrowding and patient wait times reaching crisis levels, nearly two-dozen agencies have successfully implemented community paramedicine pilot, enabling medics to direct some patients to more appropriate alternative care facilities. In partnership with emergency room physicians, CPF sponsored legislation to allow any public department to implement community paramedic programs. Despite strong bipartisan support, Gov. Brown vetoed AB 3115, CPF’s compromise community paramedicine bill. The battle will be rejoined in 2019.
Peer support confidentiality: As recognition of PTSI and the impact of the job has increased, peer support programs have gained a foothold in many departments. Many others don’t have such programs, and even when they do, firefighters often hesitate to open up about these issues out of fear it could affect their job. In 2018, CPF won overwhelming support for AB 1116, establishing confidentiality protection for peer supporters and setting a framework for a statewide system. Gov. Brown’s veto has not diminished the need, and CPF will re-introduce the legislation in 2019.
“Our firefighters are facing challenges unseen in past years, and our laws need to reflect these changes,” said CPF President Brian K. Rice. “While Gov. Brown signed some important measures, we’re optimistic that the new administration will join us in going further to protect the lives and livelihoods of firefighters.”
Following Up on 2018
CPF again enjoyed significant legislative success in 2018 – eight of 12 CPF-sponsored bills that made it through the Legislature were signed.
AB 2380 (Aguiar-Curry): Regulates private fire crews
AB 2554 (Bonta): Extends fallen firefighter college benefit to federal firefighters
AB 2998 (Bloom): Bans sale of furniture, juvenile products with toxic flame-retardant chemicals
AB 2961 (O’Donnell): Data collection on ambulance patient offload times (“wall time”)
SB 1086 (Atkins): Permanently extends 420-week workers’ comp deadline for occupational cancer death
AB 2990 (Low): Requires UC, CSU & community colleges to publicize info on public safety survivor education benefit.
AB 2696 (Rodriguez): Clarifies CalPERS penalty calculations when employers violate out-of-class work provisions
AB 2334 (Thurmond): Tightens workplace injury rules and increases access to workers’ comp data
SCR 165 (Lara): Declares September as Firefighter Appreciation Month and 9-29-18 as California Firefighters Memorial Day.
Other 2018 victories included: Increased funding for apprenticeship, protections for union activities, additional funds for mutual aid response, increased funding for PERB