A piece of legislation originally introduced by Congressman Brian Fitzpatrick will benefit the children of fallen emergency responders who died in the line of service.
In front of a group of emergency responders, Fitzpatrick, a Republican from Middletown, stood inside the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company’s station off Maple Avenue to highlight the Children of Fallen Heroes Act (HR 949) that was recently enacted. The legislation, which also was introduced by Democratic Congressman Brendan Boyle, became law as part of the recent federal spending agreement signed by President Donald Trump.
The legislation will eliminate the expected family contribution for Pell Grants that belong to the children of fallen medics, firefighters, police, and fire police. Pell Grants issued to children of fallen emergency responders under the age of 24 or enrolled at an institute of higher education will have no expected contribution and also qualify for the maximum amount allowed from Pell Grants.
Fitzpatrick said the program mimics one for children of fallen military members.
“As a member of the law enforcement community for nearly a decade and a half and an EMT, I know firsthand the service and sacrifice of our nation’s first responders. While we can never repay those who laid down their lives in the line of duty, we can make it our priority to support their families and their children,” said Fitzpatrick.
The congressman, a former FBI special agent and certified EMT, said the new benefit will reduce the burden on families of fallen emergency responders. He said the idea has been proposed in the past but never been approved.
The Children of Fallen Heroes Act has received support from the International Association of Firefighters, Major Cities Chiefs Association, Fraternal Order of Police, and International Association of Firefighters.
“It’s one less thing [families of fallen emergency responders] have to worry about,” Chuck McQuilkin, political affairs director and vice president for the Philadelphia firefighter and paramedic union, said of the legislation.
Republican State Rep. Frank Farry, who is chief of the Langhorne-Middletown Fire Company, said the burden to help the children of fallen emergency responders often rests on organizations and community members who fundraise to come up with funding to offer money for higher education. The new legislation sets aside funding and provides help for those children.
“We need to take care of our first responders,” he said.
In the Senate, Pennsylvania senators Pat Toomey, a Republican, and Bob Casey, a Democrat, supported the legislation.