March 8, 2012
AUGUSTA – A bill sponsored by Rep. Louie Luchini, D-Ellsworth, to protect emergency responders from being unfairly penalized for accidents occurring when responding to emergencies was enacted unanimously in the Maine House of Representatives on Thursday, March 8.
Luchini submitted the bill at the request of retired Ellsworth Fire Chief, Jon Marshall.
“Passage of this bill recognizes the increased urgency and risk involved in responding to life-or-death situations,” said Luchini. “I believe this bill extends an appropriate protection to those who so frequently put themselves in harm’s way to protect the public.”
Current law prohibits an insurer from increasing the insurance policy premium of a law enforcement officer for a motor vehicle accident that occurs while the officer is acting in the course and scope of employment. This bill would extend this same protection to emergency responders.
At the suggestion of firefighters, insurance companies and Maine Emergency Medical Services Luchini asked the committee to change his original proposal to only apply to fire department vehicles, not personal vehicles.
“Chief Marshall pointed out the need for this protection to finally be extended to firefighters who might have an accident in the line of duty,” said Luchini. “Fortunately these accidents rarely happen anyway. Emergency responders are highly trained and responsible drivers. But if they happen to have an accident in the line of duty they deserve this protection.”
The Maine Fire Chief’s Association and volunteer firefighters support the bill.
The bill faces further votes in the State Senate. If a majority of the Senate supports the measure it will then go to the governor to await his signature.
Jodi Quintero [Luchini], 287-1488, c. 841-6279