If a firefighter from your department dies in the line of duty, do you know what to do?
Here are important steps that a department needs to take to help the firefighter's family, members of the department, and the community.
- Notify the family of the fallen firefighter. Once you are sure this has happened, get information to members of the department, local and state officials.
- Notify the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation via the 24-hour line-of-duty death hotline at 866-736-5868. Through a collaborative effort with the Department of Justice, the Foundation has developed resources and training to help establish state and regional Local Assistance State Teams (LAST) to assist in the event of a line-of-duty death. The Foundation can put you in touch with your state Team Coordinator for invaluable assistance with funeral planning, benefits filing, and much-needed support for the family and the department.
- Contact the Department of Justice's Public Safety Officers' Benefits (PSOB) Program. When you report a firefighter death, have basic information available on the incident, your department, and the fallen firefighter and his or her immediate next-of-kin. PSOB offers a lump sum death benefit to survivors of public safety officers who die in the line of duty from a traumatic injury or heart attack. There are many procedures that need to be followed. Call PSOB even if you are not sure whether your firefighter's family will qualify for benefits under this program.
- Use a checklist to determine what needs to be done immediately, before and during the funeral, and longer term. Be sure you know what the requirements are in your jurisdiction for conducting an autopsy.
- If you would like to speak directly with another senior fire officer who has lost a firefighter in the line of duty and can offer some professional and personal support, please contact the Foundation.
- Find out what benefits exist for survivors of fallen firefighters in your state. Then start contacting the state officials for each program. Benefits may include lump-sum death payments, workers' compensation, funeral benefits, pensions and retirement programs, scholarships, and non-profit/private support.
- At the family's request, begin preparations for a fire service funeral or memorial service. A comprehensive Funeral Guide will help you plan a fitting tribute. Download a copy or call the Foundation at (301) 447-1365 to have one sent immediately.
Let the family know about organizations, such as Wilbert that provide funeral services and Lighthouse Uniform Companythat provide fire service uniforms free of charge.