Death of Firefighter Inspires NJ Legislation to Ensure Health Coverage for Family Members of Deceased First Responders

Emergency_svcs_lkwd_lpd_lfd_ems_lfa_hatz public employeesAssemblyman Troy Singleton has introduced legislation to help ensure medical coverage is not cancelled abruptly for family members of deceased first responders, a measure that was inspired by the recent death of a Cinnaminson firefighter.

“Most of us go to work everyday and never worry about whether we’ll return home safely,” said Singleton (D-Burlington). “For family members of first responders, this is a persistent fear every day. This is the least we can do to help honor the sacrifices their loved ones make day in and day out. Whether Lt. Hunter’s death was a direct result of his official duties is immaterial given the constant sacrifices he has made throughout his career.”

Cinnaminson Fire Lt. Chris Hunter was found unresponsive at his home in mid-November, just hours after his last shift ended. The cause of death was attributed to a cardiac event. However, because it was ruled that he did not die in the line of duty, his family was not eligible for a continuation of medical coverage under his plan.

Singleton’s bill (A-4062) is designed to ensure a six-month continuation of family medical coverage for the spouse and dependents of a deceased police officer, firefighter or emergency medical technician who did not die in the line of duty. Under current law, the employee’s family medical coverage terminates upon death because the employment was terminated.

The families of public safety officers who die in the line of duty are covered for medical insurance by other provisions of law. In order to ensure that the surviving spouse and dependents are not charged an excessive premium for the six-moth medical coverage extension, the bill requires the employer to negotiate an extended coverage provision with the medical insurance carrier.


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  1. The bottom line is that, according to this bill, the local governments will be responsible to continue paying the insurance premiums for 6 more months.

    I would be more supportive if the financial responsibility was transferred to the family and the local agency would only be responsible to negotiate the continuing coverage and rate with the insurance provider.

    If a husband/father passes away NOT in the line of duty, then why is he more special than many other citizens who work hard in dangerous jobs to provide for their families and also help their communities??

  2. Big Mike,

    I think it’s because of the risk that the job carries. While the heart attack happened at home it can very well have been from the shift that he just finished. The biggest killer to fire fighters is accidents en route to a scene and heart attacks. Not smoke inhalation, burns etc.

  3. Big Mike makes a good point.

    If an off-duty responder is on vacation and while taking a leisurely stroll slips and falls off a cliff, resulting in his fatality – then why should he receive more special financial treatment than other hard-working Americans who may also place their lives on the line in their line of work??

    This proposed legislation is plainly over-reaching and a line must be drawn at the point of on-duty or off-duty. The bill should be rejected unless reworked to make sense.

Comments are closed.