Rep. Yaccarino Celebrates New Supports for First Responders Killed or Disabled in the Line of Duty

Posted on May 2, 2024


HARTFORD – On Tuesday April 30th, State Representative Dave Yaccarino (R-North Haven) was among the principal co-sponsors and strongest advocates for new legislation which expands benefit eligibility for first responders who may be killed or disabled in the line of duty and their families.

The bipartisan effort to pass H.B. 5279 was led by North Haven lawmakers who witnessed the tragic loss of two firefighters in under one year.

Firefighter Matthias Wirtz was 46 on December 26th, 2022, when he died in the line of duty from a cardiac emergency responding to a house fire. Lieutenant Anthony DeSimone was 50 on August 24, 2023, when he died from a cardiac emergency upon arriving home following a 36-hour shift.

Under the new law, Lieutenant DeSimone’s passing would be rightfully declared a “line of duty death.” With this, he would have been eligible for a LODD funeral as deserved, but the ambiguity of current state statute made his situation unclear.

Lawmakers, public safety professionals, and advocates hope that the clarification in H.B. 5279 will benefit fallen first responders and their families by avoiding further confusion.

“This is an incredibly strong message to our first responders and their families. The men and women who serve as police officers, firefighters, and emergency workers make extreme sacrifices to protect our communities every day and they need the full support of our state lawmakers,” Rep. Yaccarino said. “What we have done here is a step towards making these first responders and their families whole and telling them that we have their backs, just like they have ours.”

Rep. Yaccarino was among lawmakers to express their strong support for the legislation during debate, delivering an emotional account of the tragic realities that make the bill so important.

The bill was unanimously passed in the House after advocates encouraged their colleagues to pass the legislation. The final vote tally was 147-0.

Rep. Yaccarino represents the 87th Assembly District covering North Haven.