Fire Fighters Association of Missouri
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Missouri Fire Service Funeral Assistance Team

G reeting, I hope everyone had a wonderful holiday season filled with great memories with family and friends. I would like to take a moment to remember the family of Russell Hayes, El Dorado Springs Fire Department who gave his life in service to his community, this past October. Our organization has had the honor of working with the Hayes family and the El Dorado Springs FD.

I have had the honor of presenting to many fire service agencies and organizations regarding Line of Duty Death (LODD). If you have attended any of my training classes, you may recall me sharing that when someone is considering the loss of an agency member and has to determine if this meets LODD criteria, that we must apply the circumstances of the loss a minimum of 5 times, to begin to find an answer. The Federal Public Safety Officer Benefit (PSOB), the State of Missouri Line of Duty Compensation, the National Memorial, the State of Missouri Memorial and the International Association of Fire Fighters each have their own defining parameters. Sometimes the answer is easy, and the circumstances surrounding the death will meet the parameters of each organization. It can be very confusing for families and agencies when the circumstances of the death meet one or two of the parameters, but not all. This is especially true with it comes to Federal and State benefits. 

I recently attended a benefits update training class hosted by the Bureau of Justice Assistance Programs through the Department of Justice (DOJ). The class provided us new information regarding the Federal PSOB benefits and how the laws have changed that impact the circumstances in which the benefit may be considered compensable. 

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What is a Line of Duty Death?

This year has been exceptionally busy for our funeral assistance team. As of October 1, we have handled four line of duty deaths in our state, and assisted Iowa with two. This is in addition to the numerous calls to honor our public safety officers who have also died, but not in the line of duty.

We feel it is very important to appropriately honor those who serve. You have seen me write about appropriateness of honors, and insuring we honor in a consistent and appropriate manner. In this article, I want to discuss some of the nuances regarding line of duty deaths. While it may seem very simple, it truly is a very difficult topic, and one that is greatly misunderstood. Continue Reading →

Supporting Heroes Expands

At the annual Heroes Tribute Gala held March 12th in Louisville Kentucky, Supporting Heroes Executive Director Eric Johnson announced the expansion of operations to Missouri, effectively immediately.

Supporting Heroes, Inc., a 501(c)3 charitable organization, provides support to the families of fallen public safety officers in furtherance of their mission “to honor the service and sacrifice of public safety heroes who give their lives in the line of duty – by caring for the loved ones they leave behind.”

Supporting Heroes began operations on September 11, 2004 and has since served the families of fallen public safety officers in both Kentucky and Indiana. In response to the requests of many public safety officers in Missouri and because of their desire to serve more families, the Board of Trustees approved expansion to Missouri – thereby giving peace of mind to the family members of Missouri’s public safety officers with their promise, “We’ll Be There.” Continue Reading →

Funeral Team Update – March 2016

Do you know who is listed on your life insurance? This may seem like an unusual question, but it is one that can have a bigger impact than you may believe.

When a public safety officer dies in the line of duty, the federal Public Safety Officer Benefits process has a very defined hierarchy of how the benefits will be paid, should the claim meet all of the requirements of the process. Understanding how this process works, and understanding which components you can and cannot change can be quite confusing. The two initial questions we need answered are: 1) Is the public safety officer legally married, and 2) does the public safety officer have any dependent children? Continue Reading →

Defining Line of Duty Death

In my last article, we discussed the difficult topic of firefighter honors and why it is so important to honor deceased firefighters for the service they provided to their communities. And for those who die in the line of duty, it is important to honor them for both service and sacrifice. We also discussed the importance of developing funeral guidelines prior to suffering the loss of a member of your organization and at a time when decisions can be made with an objective mindset versus an emotional mindset. This article we will discuss the importance of including in those guidelines what your agency will consider ‘Line of Duty’.

When public safety officers are asked to define Line of Duty Death (LODD), most will tell you it is the death of a public safety officer while on duty. For those of you who have participated in the recent online course presentations facilitated by the Supporting Heroes organization, you learned that many different organizations will evaluate the circumstances of a public safety officer’s death, to determine if it meets that entity’s definition of ‘Line of Duty’. Additionally, these organizations may not render a decision related to Line of Duty inclusion for many months or years. Since there is not one common definition, it is important that an agency define this for its purposes during the development of funeral guidelines. Continue Reading →

Funeral Team Update – November 2015

Working in public safety we all know that, to a degree, we must distance ourselves from the event which we are called to respond to. It’s not our emergency, but someone else’s, and they call on us to assist them in handling it. By depersonalizing the incident, it allows us the ability to maintain an objective perspective so we can make appropriate decisions based on facts, standards, and guidelines, versus emotion.

Today I want to talk to you about a very difficult topic, honoring our public safety officers. When a tragedy occurs within our own organization, maintaining objective decision making abilities is extremely difficult because this is now “our” emergency. We often act on emotion versus those facts, standards, and guidelines we employ when making objective decisions for someone else’s emergency. Continue Reading →

Funeral Team Update

As many of you follow us through our Facebook page and receive our notifications from our email blast system, you know we have been busy serving our fire service family. Many of you see what we do, preparing and assisting agencies in honoring their firefighters. The funeral honors is the “icing on the cake”. But, what I feel is most important about our roll in serving agencies are the things you do not see, the “cake”. We spend a lot of time with the families of our fallen. When a firefighter dies in the line of duty, our assistance to families remains for many years. Yes….years. Continue Reading →