Bill to stiffen penalties for firefighter killers clears first committee

JOHANNESBURG, SOUTH AFRICA - MAY, 2018 Firefighters spraying down fire during firefighting training exercise
Firefighters currently lack the same justice offered to police and correctional officers.

A Senate committee passed a bill Tuesday that would stiffen criminal penalties against those who murder an 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.

Republican Sen. Ed Hooper — a former firefighter himself — is the bill sponsor.

“Those that serve and protect us need to have the same protection when they are attacked and killed,” Hooper said.

The Senate Criminal Justice Committee voted unanimously in favor of the bill. Lawmakers heard testimony from Randy Wise, a representative of the Florida Professional Firefighters association.

Wise shared the story of two Jacksonville firefighters who were stabbed in 2020 by a patient while riding in the back of an ambulance. It was that incident, Wise said, that exposed the need for enhanced firefighter protections.

Beyond “routine” calls, firefighters also serve alongside police during mass casualty incidents. In 2017, after the Pulse Massacre, the city of Orlando issued ballistic vests and helmets to firefighters and medics. The June 12 terrorist attack killed 49 and injured more than 60 in downtown Orlando.

“Daily, these firefighters encounter attacks and we want to make sure that these criminals who do these attacks are treated appropriately,” Wise added.

Hooper’s proposal will appear next before the Senate Government Oversight Committee and the Senate Rules Committee. If signed into law, it would take effect Oct. 1, 2022.

Hooper is also championing a bill seeking to close a loophole within the Firefighter’s Bill of Rights. The measure (SB 264) would prevent the use of informal investigations.

“Let’s try to change the language to more mirror like, the Police Officers’ Bill of Rights (so) there’s no such thing as an informal inquiry, there’s an investigation,” Hooper told Florida Politics in October.

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.


  • Alex

    November 2, 2021 at 4:03 pm

    What about stiffening penalties for crimes against people in the LGBTQ community?


    This is Floriduh, where hate, ignorance and bigotry flourish.

    • bill skinner

      November 9, 2021 at 3:18 pm

      Guess I will have to move to florida

Comments are closed.


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