The Hometown Heroes Act was introduced in the legislature this week, which would provide aid to firefighters and their families in the event of disease or mental illness brought on by occupational hazards. Firefighters have been shown to be at a higher risk for cancer and heart disease and are also up to six times more likely to suffer from mental illness than the public due to the perils and hazards they face on the job. This bill, with bipartisan support, will make sure that firefighters, both volunteer and career professionals, are supported across the state.
Passing the Heroes Act has faced resistance in the past due to financial concerns. While Minnesota ranks 21st in population, it ranks 48th in firefighter service investment. The hope is that by passing this bill, Minnesota would have a $7 million annual budget to support the over 22,000 firefighters who protect the state. The bill has been referred to the Judiciary and Public Safety Committee in the Senate and is awaiting its first hearing. (SF 621)