BOSTON (AP) - Death benefits paid to the families of public safety officers who die in the line of duty would be increased under a bill approved unanimously by the state House of Representatives on Wednesday, a week after two Boston firefighters were killed while battling a blaze.
Since 1994, the state has provided a $100,000 benefit for the families of fallen public safety officers. The measure, which now moves to the Senate, would increase the benefit to $150,000 and apply to the families of the firefighters who died last week, Edward Walsh and Michael Kennedy.
"We all know that money won't bring back these brave men and fill the void created by their loss," said Rep. Edward Coppinger, D-Boston. "But it's a commitment from our commonwealth to show that we will take care of those who die in the line of duty working to keep us safe."
Coppinger said both firefighters lived in his legislative district and were active in the community.
Walsh, a father of three young children, and Kennedy died after becoming trapped in the basement of a brownstone apartment building in the city's Back Bay neighborhood.
Walsh's funeral was held Wednesday in suburban Watertown, where he grew up. Kennedy's funeral was scheduled for Thursday in the West Roxbury neighborhood.
Boston Mayor Martin Walsh, no relation to the fallen firefighter, thanked legislators for advancing the increase in death benefits.
"The Walsh and Kennedy families will need ongoing support in this immediate time of need and for years to come," the mayor said in a statement.
The House observed a moment of silence for the fallen firefighters before voting on the measure.
Democratic House Speaker Robert DeLeo said the family of Plymouth police officer Gregory Maloney, who died Tuesday when his police motorcycle crashed, also will be eligible for the higher benefit if the measure becomes law.