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CALIFORNIA PROFESSIONAL FIREFIGHTERS - BRIAN K. RICE

Historic Results in Sacramento

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When we think about what is happening in the halls of power – whether it’s in Washington, Sacramento or City Hall – it can sometimes seem overwhelming and pointless. Like many of our fellow citizens, firefighters often see the actions of government as far removed from their everyday lives.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

The decisions made by political leaders will directly impact every aspect of our members’ lives and livelihoods, from the safety of their equipment to size of their paychecks to the security of their retirement and health care.

This reality was never more in evidence than right now, in the wake of an historic legislative session for CPF and all California firefighters. In early October, Governor Gavin Newsom signed two CPF-sponsored bills that, in my view, will save lives among our members.

  • SB 542 establishes a workers’ compensation presumption for firefighters who suffer post-traumatic stress injury. The new law establishes that firefighters who are diagnosed with PTSI are assumed to have gotten it on the job, unless management can prove otherwise.

  • AB 1116 ensures confidentiality for conversations between firefighters and certified peer supporters. This measure will mean expanded access to peer support and protection against job reprisals for those who confide in someone on their peer support team.

Taken together, this package gives California firefighters industry-leading protection for their mental and emotional health and wellness. We all know that this is the singular health and safety issue of our time in the profession: These measures will do more to help break the stigma and get our members who are suffering the help they need.

We appreciate the work of many of our members, who stood up to make their voice heard. Your Local 372 President Rex Pritchard was one of those who stood up – his testimony in support of AB 1116 was key to its unanimous passage.

That’s not all that was achieved this year: Gov. Newsom also signed legislation – SB 438 – that will guard against the threat to public agency fire and EMS service from efforts to contract out 9-1-1 dispatch services.

These accomplishments don’t just happen. They are the product of long hours of focused and aggressive advocacy and, more importantly, elected officials willing to listen to the united voice of firefighters.

As we’ve said many times, your union’s involvement in politics is laser-focused on the priorities that affect your professional life – your pay, benefits, working conditions, safety on the job. Electing people who will stand up for us on these core issues is critical not only to the work we do, but to the work you do.

From the governor’s office on down, getting your message through the clutter depends on having elected officials whose ears are tuned to your issues, your priorities, your concerns.

Those well-tuned ears helped us make history this year.