SENATE, No. 1294

STATE OF NEW JERSEY

214th LEGISLATURE

 

INTRODUCED FEBRUARY 8, 2010

 


 

Sponsored by:

Senator  JEFF VAN DREW

District 1 (Cape May, Atlantic and Cumberland)

 

 

 

 

SYNOPSIS

     Assures workers’ compensation benefits to police, fire and emergency personnel rendering aid under certain emergency circumstances.

 

CURRENT VERSION OF TEXT

     As introduced.

  


An Act concerning workers’ compensation for certain emergency personnel and amending R.S.34:15-43.

 

     Be It Enacted by the Senate and General Assembly of the State of New Jersey:

 

     1.  R.S.34:15-43 is amended to read as follows:

     34:15-43.  Every officer, appointed or elected, and every employee of the State, county, municipality or any board or commission, or any other governing body, including boards of education, and governing bodies of service districts, individuals who are under the general supervision of the Palisades Interstate Park Commission and who work in that part of the Palisades Interstate Park which is located in this State, and also each and every member of a volunteer fire company doing public fire duty and also each and every active volunteer, first aid or rescue squad worker, including each and every authorized worker who is not a member of the volunteer fire company within which the first aid or rescue squad may have been created, doing public first aid or rescue duty under the control or supervision of any commission, council, or any other governing body of any municipality, any board of fire commissioners of such municipality or of any fire district within the State, or of the board of managers of any State institution, every county fire marshal and assistant county fire marshal, every special, reserve or auxiliary policeman doing volunteer public police duty under the control or supervision of any commission, council or any other governing body of any municipality, every emergency management volunteer doing emergency management service for the State, every health care worker, public health worker and support services personnel, registered with the Emergency Health Care Provider Registry pursuant to section 6 of P.L.2005, c.222 (C.26:13-6), and any person doing volunteer work for the Division of Parks and Forestry, the Division of Fish and Wildlife, or the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust, as authorized by the Commissioner of Environmental Protection, or for the New Jersey Historic Trust, and any person doing work related to bioterrorism, or volunteering, for the Department of Agriculture, as authorized by the Secretary of Agriculture, who may be injured in line of duty shall be compensated under and by virtue of the provisions of this article and article 2 of this chapter (R.S.34:15-7 et seq.).  No former employee who has been retired on pension by reason of injury or disability shall be entitled under this section to compensation for such injury or disability; provided, however, that such employee, despite retirement, shall, nevertheless, be entitled to the medical, surgical and other treatment and hospital services as set forth in R.S.34:15-15.

     Benefits available under this section to emergency management volunteers and volunteers participating in activities of the Division of Parks and Forestry, the Division of Fish and Wildlife, the New Jersey Natural Lands Trust or the New Jersey Historic Trust, shall not be paid to any claimant who has another single source of injury or death benefits that provides the claimant with an amount of compensation that exceeds the compensation available to the claimant under R.S.34:15-1 et seq.

     As used in this section, the terms "doing public fire duty" and "who may be injured in line of duty," as applied to members of volunteer fire companies, county fire marshals or assistant county fire marshals, and the term "doing public first aid or rescue duty," as applied to active volunteer first aid or rescue squad workers, shall be deemed to include participation in any authorized construction, installation, alteration, maintenance or repair work upon the premises, apparatus or other equipment owned or used by the fire company or the first aid or rescue squad, participation in any State, county, municipal or regional search and rescue task force or team,  participation in any authorized public drill, showing, exhibition, fund raising activity or parade, and to include also the rendering of assistance in case of fire and, when authorized, in connection with other events affecting the public health or safety, in any political subdivision or territory of another state of the United States or on property ceded to the federal government while such assistance is being rendered and while going to and returning from the place in which it is rendered.

     Also, as used in this section, "doing public police duty" and "who may be injured in line of duty" as applied to special, reserve or auxiliary policemen, shall be deemed to include participation in any authorized public drill, showing, exhibition or parade, and to include also the rendering of assistance in connection with other events affecting the public health or safety in the municipality, and also, when authorized, in connection with any such events in any political subdivision or territory of this or any other state of the United States or on property ceded to the federal government while such assistance is being rendered and while going to and returning from the place in which it is rendered.

     As used in this section, the terms "doing emergency management service" and "who may be injured in the line of duty," as applied to emergency management volunteers and health care  workers, public health workers and support services personnel registered with the Emergency Health Care Provider Registry pursuant to section 6 of P.L.2005, c.222 (C.26:13-6), mean participation in any activities authorized pursuant to P.L.1942, c.251 (C.App.A:9-33 et seq.), including participation in any State, county, municipal or regional search and rescue task force or team, except that the terms shall not include activities engaged in by a member of an emergency management agency of the United States Government or of another state, whether pursuant to a mutual aid compact or otherwise.

     Every member of a volunteer fire company shall be deemed to be doing public fire duty under the control or supervision of any such commission, council, governing body, board of fire commissioners or fire district or board of managers of any State institution within the meaning of this section, if such control or supervision is provided for by statute or by rule or regulation of the board of managers or the superintendent of such State institution, or if the fire company of which he is a member receives contributions from, or a substantial part of its expenses or equipment are paid for by, the municipality, or board of fire commissioners of the fire district or if such fire company has been or hereafter shall be designated by ordinance as the fire department of the municipality.

     Every active volunteer, first aid or rescue squad worker, including every authorized worker who is not a member of the volunteer fire company within which the first aid or rescue squad may have been created, shall be deemed to be doing public first aid or rescue duty under the control or supervision of any such commission, council, governing body, board of fire commissioners or fire district within the meaning of this section if such control or supervision is provided for by statute, or if the first aid or rescue squad of which he is a member or authorized worker receives or is eligible to receive contributions from, or a substantial part of its expenses or equipment are paid for by, the municipality, or board of fire commissioners of the fire district, or if such first aid or rescue squad has been or hereafter shall be designated by ordinance as the first aid or rescue squad of the municipality.

     As used in this section and in R.S.34:15-74, the term "authorized worker" shall mean and include, in addition to an active volunteer fireman and an active volunteer first aid or rescue squad worker, any person performing any public fire duty or public first aid or rescue squad duty, as the same are defined in this section, at the request of the chief or acting chief of a fire company or the president or person in charge of a first aid or rescue squad for the time being.

     A member of a volunteer fire company, active volunteer first aid or rescue squad worker, county fire marshal, assistant county fire marshal, special, reserve or auxiliary policeman or emergency management volunteer serving a volunteer organization duly created and under the control or supervision of any commission, council or any other governing body of any municipality, any board of fire commissioners of that municipality or of any fire district within the State, or of the board of managers of any State institution, who participated in a search and rescue task force or team in response to the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001 without the authorization of that volunteer organization's governing body and who suffered injury or death as a result of participation in that search and rescue task force or team shall be deemed an employee of this State for the purpose of workers' compensation benefits as would have accrued if the injury or death had occurred in the performance of the duties of the volunteer company or squad of which he was a member.

     Whenever a member of a volunteer fire company, active volunteer first aid or rescue squad worker, county fire marshal, assistant county fire marshal, special, reserve or auxiliary policeman or emergency management volunteer serving a volunteer organization duly created and under the control or supervision of any commission, council or any other governing body of any municipality, any board of fire commissioners of that municipality or of any fire district within the State, or of the board of managers of any State institution, participates in a national, multi-state, State, municipal or regional search and rescue task force or team without the authorization of that volunteer organization's governing body but pursuant to a Declaration of Emergency by the Governor of the State of New Jersey specifically authorizing volunteers to respond immediately to the emergency without requiring the authorization of the volunteer company or squad, and the member of the volunteer fire company, active volunteer first aid or rescue squad worker, county fire marshal, assistant county fire marshal, special, reserve or auxiliary policeman or emergency management volunteer suffers injury or death as a result of participation in that search and rescue task force or team, he shall be deemed an employee of this State for the purpose of workers' compensation benefits as would have accrued if the injury or death had occurred in the performance of the duties of the volunteer company or squad of which he was a member.

     Whenever a member of a volunteer fire company, active volunteer first aid or rescue squad worker, county fire marshal, assistant county fire marshal, special, reserve or auxiliary policeman or emergency management volunteer serving a volunteer organization duly created and under the control or supervision of any commission, council or any other governing body of any municipality, any board of fire commissioners of that municipality or of any fire district within the State, or of the board of managers of any State institution, responds to a "law enforcement, public safety or medical emergency" within the State without the authorization of that volunteer organization's governing body and the member of the volunteer fire company, active volunteer first aid or rescue squad worker, county fire marshal, assistant county fire marshal, special, reserve or auxiliary policeman or emergency management volunteer suffers injury or death as a result of that response, he shall be deemed an employee of this State for the purpose of workers' compensation benefits as would have accrued if the injury or death had occurred in the performance of the duties of the volunteer company or squad of which he was a member. A “law enforcement, public safety or medical emergency” shall mean any combination of circumstances requiring immediate action to prevent the loss of human life, the destruction of property, or the violation of the criminal laws of this State or its political subdivisions, and includes, but is not limited to, the suppression of a fire, the apprehension of a criminal, or medical and rescue service.

     Whenever a law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician or paramedic employed by a municipality, county or fire district of this State responds to a "law enforcement, public safety or medical emergency" within the State without the authorization of the municipality, county or fire district or the State and the law enforcement officer, firefighter, emergency medical technician or paramedic suffers injury or death as a result of participation in the search and rescue task force or team, he shall be deemed an employee of this State for the purpose of payment of workers' compensation benefits as would have accrued if the injury or death had occurred in the performance of duties in the territorial jurisdiction in which he is employed. A “law enforcement, public safety or medical emergency” shall mean any combination of circumstances requiring immediate action to prevent the loss of human life, the destruction of property, or the violation of the criminal laws of this State or its political subdivisions, and includes, but is not limited to, the suppression of a fire, the apprehension of a criminal, or medical and rescue service.

     Nothing herein contained shall be construed as affecting or changing in any way the provisions of any statute providing for sick, disability, vacation or other leave for public employees or any provision of any retirement or pension fund provided by law.

(cf: P.L.2005, c.222, s.33)

 

     2. This act shall take effect immediately

 

 

STATEMENT

 

     This bill provides for workers' compensation benefits in the event of injury or death to fire, police, first aid, rescue or emergency management personnel, paid or volunteer, who assist in a “law enforcement, public safety or medical emergency” within the State of New Jersey. Furthermore, this bill establishes that the individual will be an employee of the State for the purpose of payment of workers' compensation benefits as opposed to the county, municipality or fire district by whom they may be regularly employed.

     A “law enforcement, public safety or medical emergency” is defined as any combination of circumstances requiring immediate action to prevent the loss of human life, the destruction of property, or the violation of the criminal laws of this State or its political subdivisions, and includes, but is not limited to, the suppression of a fire, the apprehension of a criminal, or medical and rescue service.

     This bill was introduced in response to the heroic efforts of a volunteer firefighter who risked his own life and suffered long term injuries in his rescue of a stranger from a burning vehicle.  The volunteer firefighter made the rescue outside of his district and without prior authorization. This bill was written to ensure that future volunteers who risk their lives in such an emergency situation will be justly compensated by the State for any injuries they sustain in doing so.