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2022 Florida Statutes (including 2022C, 2022D, 2022A, and 2023B)
Firefighters; death benefits.
Firefighters; death benefits.
112.191 Firefighters; death benefits.—
(1) As used in this section, the term:
(a) “Employer” means a state board, commission, department, division, bureau, or agency, or a county, municipality, or other political subdivision of the state.
(b) “Firefighter” means any duly employed uniformed firefighter employed by an employer, whose primary duty is the prevention and extinguishing of fires, the protection of life and property therefrom, the enforcement of municipal, county, and state fire prevention codes, as well as the enforcement of any law pertaining to the prevention and control of fires, who is certified pursuant to s. 633.408 and who is a member of a duly constituted fire department of such employer or who is a volunteer firefighter.
(c) “Insurance” means insurance procured from a stock company or mutual company or association or exchange authorized to do business as an insurer in this state.
(2)(a) The sum of $75,000 must be paid as provided in this section when a firefighter, while engaged in the performance of his or her firefighter duties, is accidentally killed or receives accidental bodily injury which subsequently results in the loss of the firefighter’s life, provided that such killing is not the result of suicide and that such bodily injury is not intentionally self-inflicted.
(b) The sum of $75,000 must be paid as provided in this section if a firefighter is accidentally killed as specified in paragraph (a) and the accidental death occurs as a result of the firefighter’s response to what is reasonably believed to be an emergency involving the protection of life or property or the firefighter’s participation in a training exercise. This sum is in addition to any sum provided in paragraph (a).
(c) If a firefighter, while engaged in the performance of his or her firefighter duties, is unlawfully and intentionally killed, is injured by an unlawful and intentional act of another person and dies as a result of such injury, dies as a result of a fire which has been determined to have been caused by an act of arson, or subsequently dies as a result of injuries sustained therefrom, the sum of $225,000 must be paid as provided in this section.
(d) Such payments, pursuant to paragraphs (a), (b), and (c), whether secured by insurance or not, must be made to the beneficiary designated by such firefighter in writing, signed by the firefighter and delivered to the employer during the firefighter’s lifetime. If no such designation is made, then the payment must be paid to the firefighter’s surviving child or children and to the firefighter’s surviving spouse in equal portions, and if there be no surviving child or spouse, then to the firefighter’s parent or parents. If a beneficiary designation is not made and there is no surviving child, spouse, or parent, then the sum must be paid to the firefighter’s estate.
(e) Such payments, pursuant to paragraphs (a), (b), and (c), are in addition to any workers’ compensation or retirement plan benefits and are exempt from the claims and demands of creditors of such firefighter.
(f) Any political subdivision of the state that employs a full-time firefighter who is killed in the line of duty on or after July 1, 1993, as a result of an act of violence inflicted by another person while the firefighter is engaged in the performance of firefighter duties, as a result of a fire which has been determined to have been caused by an act of arson, or as a result of an assault against the firefighter under riot conditions shall pay the entire premium of the political subdivision’s health insurance plan for the employee’s surviving spouse until remarried, and for each dependent child of the employee until the child reaches the age of majority or until the end of the calendar year in which the child reaches the age of 25 if:
1. At the time of the employee’s death, the child is dependent upon the employee for support; and
2. The surviving child continues to be dependent for support, or the surviving child is a full-time or part-time student and is dependent for support.
(g)1. Any employer who employs a full-time firefighter who, on or after January 1, 1995, suffers a catastrophic injury, as defined in s. 440.02, Florida Statutes 2002, in the line of duty shall pay the entire premium of the employer’s health insurance plan for the injured employee, the injured employee’s spouse, and for each dependent child of the injured employee until the child reaches the age of majority or until the end of the calendar year in which the child reaches the age of 25 if the child continues to be dependent for support, or the child is a full-time or part-time student and is dependent for support. The term “health insurance plan” does not include supplemental benefits that are not part of the basic group health insurance plan. If the injured employee subsequently dies, the employer shall continue to pay the entire health insurance premium for the surviving spouse until remarried, and for the dependent children, under the conditions outlined in this paragraph. However:
a. Health insurance benefits payable from any other source shall reduce benefits payable under this section.
b. It is unlawful for a person to willfully and knowingly make, or cause to be made, or to assist, conspire with, or urge another to make, or cause to be made, any false, fraudulent, or misleading oral or written statement to obtain health insurance coverage as provided under this paragraph. A person who violates this sub-subparagraph commits a misdemeanor of the first degree, punishable as provided in s. 775.082 or s. 775.083.
c. In addition to any applicable criminal penalty, upon conviction for a violation as described in sub-subparagraph b., a firefighter or other beneficiary who receives or seeks to receive health insurance benefits under this paragraph shall forfeit the right to receive such health insurance benefits, and shall reimburse the employer for all benefits paid due to the fraud or other prohibited activity. For purposes of this sub-subparagraph, the term “conviction” means a determination of guilt that is the result of a plea or trial, regardless of whether adjudication is withheld.
2. In order for the firefighter, spouse, and dependent children to be eligible for such insurance coverage, the injury must have occurred as the result of the firefighter’s response to what is reasonably believed to be an emergency involving the protection of life or property, or an unlawful act perpetrated by another. Except as otherwise provided herein, this paragraph may not be construed to limit health insurance coverage for which the firefighter, spouse, or dependent children may otherwise be eligible, except that a person who qualifies for benefits under this section is not eligible for the health insurance subsidy provided under chapter 121, chapter 175, or chapter 185.
Notwithstanding any provision of this section to the contrary, the death benefits provided in paragraphs (b), (c), and (f) shall also be applicable and paid in cases where a firefighter received bodily injury prior to July 1, 1993, and subsequently died on or after July 1, 1993, as a result of such in-line-of-duty injury.
(h) The Division of the State Fire Marshal within the Department of Financial Services shall adopt rules necessary to implement this section.
(3) If a firefighter is accidentally killed as specified in paragraph (2)(b) on or after June 22, 1990, but before July 1, 2019, or unlawfully and intentionally killed as specified in paragraph (2)(c), on or after July 1, 1980, but before July 1, 2019, the state must waive certain educational expenses that the child or spouse of the deceased firefighter incurs while obtaining a career certificate, an undergraduate education, or a postgraduate education. The amount waived by the state must be in an amount equal to the cost of tuition and matriculation and registration fees for a total of 120 credit hours. The child or spouse may attend a state career center, a Florida College System institution, or a state university on either a full-time or part-time basis. The benefits provided to a child under this subsection shall continue until the child’s 25th birthday. The benefits provided to a spouse under this subsection must commence within 5 years after the death occurs, and entitlement thereto shall continue until the 10th anniversary of that death.
(a) Upon failure of any child or spouse who receives a waiver in accordance with this subsection to comply with the ordinary and minimum requirements regarding discipline and scholarship of the institution attended, such benefits must be withdrawn as to the child or spouse and no further moneys expended for the child’s or spouse’s benefits so long as such failure or delinquency continues.
(b) Only students in good standing in their respective institutions may receive the benefits provided in this subsection.
(c) A child or spouse receiving benefits under this subsection must be enrolled according to the customary rules and requirements of the institution attended.
(4)(a) The employer of such firefighter is liable for the payment of the sums specified in this section and is deemed self-insured, unless it procures and maintains, or has already procured and maintained, insurance to secure such payments. Any such insurance may cover only the risks indicated in this section, in the amounts indicated in this section, or it may cover those risks and additional risks and may be in larger amounts. Any such insurance must be placed by such employer only after public bid of such insurance coverage which must be awarded to the carrier making the lowest best bid.
(b) Payment of benefits to beneficiaries of state employees, or of the premiums to cover the risk, under this section, must be paid from existing funds otherwise appropriated for the department.
(5) The State Board of Education shall adopt rules and procedures, and the Board of Governors shall adopt regulations and procedures, as are appropriate and necessary to implement the educational benefits provisions of this section.
History.—ss. 1, 2, ch. 67-443; ss. 1, 2, ch. 69-35; s. 7, ch. 69-353; ss. 2, 3, ch. 71-301; s. 1, ch. 78-7; s. 53, ch. 79-40; s. 3, ch. 90-138; s. 2, ch. 92-59; s. 1, ch. 93-149; s. 3, ch. 94-171; s. 1405, ch. 95-147; s. 4, ch. 96-198; s. 39, ch. 99-2; s. 2, ch. 2002-191; s. 6, ch. 2002-194; s. 2, ch. 2002-232; s. 10, ch. 2003-1; s. 125, ch. 2003-261; s. 47, ch. 2003-412; s. 6, ch. 2004-5; ss. 16, 17, ch. 2004-357; s. 9, ch. 2007-217; s. 3, ch. 2010-78; s. 5, ch. 2010-179; ss. 91, 117, ch. 2013-183; ss. 14, 15, ch. 2014-17; s. 2, ch. 2019-24.