Ed Hooper files bill to stiffen penalties for firefighter murderers

firefighters (Large)
Firefighters and paramedics are frequently involved in perilous situations alongside police.

Republican Sen. Ed Hooper is proposing legislation that would stiffen criminal penalties related to the murder of a on-duty firefighter.

Under the proposal (SB 370), the convicted murderer of a firefighter would face the same consequences as a person who killed a police or correctional officer — life in prison without the possibility of parole.

Speaking to Florida Politics, Hooper said firefighters are worthy of the same legal classification as their first responder counterparts. They, he asserted, face many of the same risks as law enforcement officers.

“I just don’t think that they ought to be treated differently if they’re all responding to the same emergencies at the same time,” Hooper, a retired firefighter himself, said.

Indeed, firefighter and paramedics are frequently involved in perilous situations — from police raids and active shooter incidents to hostage situations and other mass casualty incidents that require police intervention.

In 2017, after the Pulse Massacre, Orange County and the City of Orlando began issuing ballistic vests and helmets to firefighters and medics. The June 12 siege killed 49 and injured more than 60 in Downtown Orlando.

“They’re right in the line of fire,” Hooper said of firefighters and medics.

While the Chief Financial/State Fire Marshal Office is in the process of reviewing the legislation, a spokesperson for CFO and State Fire Marshal Jimmy Patronis lauded Hooper’s advocacy.

“Senator Hooper is a tremendous advocate for Florida’s first responders and measures that further protect our firefighters as they put themselves in harm’s way to save lives are vital to the fire service community,” said Communications Director Devin Galetta.

If signed into law, the measure would take effect October 1, 2022.

Hooper, meanwhile, is also sponsoring legislation that would bolster the Firefighter Bill of Rights. The measure (SB 264) would align the Firefighter Bill of Rights more closely to the Police Bill of Rights when it comes to internal investigations.

The 2022 Legislative Session begins Jan. 11.

Jason Delgado

Jason Delgado covers news out of the Florida State Capitol. After a go with the U.S. Army, the Orlando-native attended the University of Central Florida and earned a degree in American Policy and National Security. His past bylines include WMFE-NPR and POLITICO Florida. He'd love to hear from you. You can reach Jason by email ([email protected]) or on Twitter at @byJasonDelgado.


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