FDNY Union Demands Line-Of-Duty Benefits for Coronavirus First Responders

NY Post - May 19, 2020

by Craig McCarthy

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The city’s firefighters union has called on Big Apple pols to provide line-of-duty benefits for first responders or their families if the front-line workers die or are seriously injured by the COVID-19 pandemic.

“This is not a political issue, this is an issue of our members going to work every day, putting their lives on the line to protect this city in the COVID epicenter,” said FDNY-Uniformed Firefighters Association president Gerard Fitzgerald.

“Firefighters and first responders are on the front lines of the fight against COVID-19. Should injuries or death derive from exposure to coronavirus, these men and women are deserving of the line-of-duty benefits that they’ve earned by courageously answering the call in the face of this crisis.”

Fitzgerald asked for the support of Mayor Bill de Blasio and the City Council to unanimously approve the change to the law to make any deaths or injury related to coronavirus “service-related” — even if it cannot be proved the disease was contracted while on the clock.

Currently, the family of a first responder would get a lump sum of three years’ salary if the member had not hit 20 years.

The proposed change would provide the family or member with health benefits and an annual percentage of salary if the worker died from a coronavirus-related illness.

City Councilman Joe Borelli of Staten Island has also been advocating for the benefits.

The mayor’s office did not immediately respond for comment.