DEALING WITH A LINE OF DUTY DEATH (LODD)
Everyone hopes that they never have to deal with a Line of Duty Death in their department, but in the event that you do there are some things that can help make the process a little smoother.
A very important piece of information that every fire department should have on file is an Emergency Contact Information sheet. Please download this Emergency Contact Information form and have every member on the department fill it out. UPDATE the information on the sheets EVERY year!! It is also EXTREMELY important for every firefighter to have on file at their fire department Designation of Beneficiaries Form for U.S. Dept. of Justice PSOB Program .We encourage departments to put this form on their letterhead and distribute to their firefighters for completion and filing with your department. Firefighters may also want to keep a copy for your own personal records.
The National Fallen Firefighter’s Foundation website has lots of information regarding LODDs including funeral procedures and links to many helpful resources.
The NFFF has developed resources and training to help establish state and regional line-of-duty response teams throughout the country. These Local Assistance State Teams (LAST) help departments deal with some of the issues that they may be facing in the event of a LODD. The Iowa Firefighters Association has a LAST team in place. In the event of a LODD please contact Ellen Hagen at E-mail:firstname.lastname@example.org Home: (515)827-5618 Cell: (515) 689-0112 . For more information on the Local Assistance State Teams see the LAST brochure.
Line of Duty Death Protocol
The Iowa Firefighters Association is concerned about proper reporting of Line-of-Duty Deaths (LODD). We offer the following information as a guide to assist with this process.
Most of this information comes from the U.S. Department of Justice Public Safety Officers’ Benefits Program and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation.
The Federal Public Safety Officers’ Benefits (PSOB) Program provides a one-time financial benefit to the eligible survivors of federal, state, and local police, fire, and emergency public safety officers killed in the line of duty and to officers who are permanently and totally disabled as the result of traumatic injuries sustained in the line of duty. Currently set at $339,881.00 as of October 1, 2015, the benefit is adjusted annually. The amount of the PSOB educational assistance benefit for one month of full-time attendance on or after October 1, 2015 is $1,021.00.
The Hometown Heroes Survivors Benefits Act of 2003 (HHA) amends the PSOB Act. If a public safety officer dies as a direct and proximate result of a heart attack or stroke, that officer shall be presumed to have died as the direct and proximate result of a personal injury sustained in the line of duty if:
- that officer, while on duty-
- engaged in a situation, and such engagement involved non-routine stressful or strenuous physical law enforcement, fire suppression, rescue, hazardous material response, emergency medical services, prison security, disaster relief, or other emergency response activity*; or,
- participated in a training exercise, and such participation involved non-routine stressful or strenuous physical activity*;
- that officer died as a result of a heart attack or stroke suffered–
- while engaging or participating in such activity as described above
- while still on that duty after so engaging or participating in such an activity, or
- not later than 24 hours after so engaging or participating in such an activity; and
- Such presumption is not overcome by competent medical evidence to the contrary.
*Non-routine stressful or strenuous physical activities exclude actions of a clerical, administrative, or non-manual nature.
The Iowa LODD Benefit basically mirrors the federal death benefit with the heart attack and stroke presumption only applicable for volunteer firefighters. At this time, career firefighters don’t have the heart attack and stroke presumption clause. The Iowa benefit is a one time payment of $100,000. The Iowa Firemen’s Association is currently working to have the heart attack and stroke presumption added to the existing career firefighter’s benefit.
Processing Claims for Line-of-Duty Deaths
1. After the fatality has occurred, the department should immediately:
- Make arrangements for an autopsy, which often provides the PSOB office with useful information regarding the cause of death. This must be done immediately!
- Identify a department member to serve as a liaison between the department and the PSOB office.
2. After being named the department’s liaison, he/she should:
- Call the PSOB office at 1-888-744-6513.
- Call the State Fire Marshal’s Office at 515-281-5821.
- Provide accurate, up-to-date information regarding these items:
- Public Agency’s name.
- Liaison’s name.
- Phone numbers for the department and the liaison.
- A fax number or mailing address so the PSOB office can send the claim initiation guidance letter.
- Name of deceased (public safety officer).
- Date of incident and date of death.
- A brief description of the incident.
- Relay the information very carefully and include only what is known. There should be no speculation as to the cause of death.
- On evenings and weekends, leave a phone message with the liaison’s name and telephone number.
3. Upon receipt of your telephone call, or through other resources, the PSOB office will mail a “Claims Guidance Package” to the department liaison as soon as possible. Included in this package are the following items:
- Claim initiation guidance letter.
- Report of Public Safety Officer’s Death form.
- Claim for Death Benefits form.
- Consent to Release Confidential Information form.
- PSOB Act.
4. After receiving the guidance package, the liaison should:
- Meet with the claimant as soon as possible and together complete the Claim for Death Benefits and Report of Public Safety Officer’s Death forms.
- Assure that the family provides a copy of the death notice.
- Gather the other documentation requested in the claim initiation guidance letter.
5. Upon receiving the claim package from the liaison, the PSOB office may contact the department liaison and/or family if further information is needed.
6. As determining the eligibility of claimants under the PSOB Program is often time-consuming, these benefits are not intended to meet emergency financial needs. However, the PSOB office works closely with the Concerns of Police Survivors (COPS) and the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation (NFFF), and both organizations provide an array of support services that may be helpful to the survivors at this time. When the Consent to Release Confidential Information form is signed by the claimant and returned along with the other requested documents, the PSOB office will forward their name and address to the appropriate partner agency so that contact may be initiated.
7. Once the processing is completed, the PSOB office sends a letter notifying the claimant and department as to the decision reached. Should the claim be denied, information on the appeals process is also provided.
If you have any questions please don’t hesitate to contact any of the Iowa Firefighters Association board members. They will work to assist you with any of the associated LODD issues so that benefits can be quickly secured. Many of the steps taken need to be done in a timely manner. Please act quickly to avoid any unfortunate circumstances that might remove the ability to receive the deserved benefits.