The Public Safety Officer Support Act of 2022
What it means for NFFF and the fire service community
By NFFF CEO Victor Stagnaro and Chief Billy Goldfeder, NFFF Board Member
On August 16, 2022, President Joe Biden signed the Public Safety Officer Support Act of 2022
into law. This new law (P.L. 117-172) makes significant changes to the Public Safety Officers’
Benefits (PSOB) program – extending coverage for first responders who die as a result of suicide
under certain circumstances or are permanently and totally disabled as a result of traumatic
self-inflicted injury. The law is retroactive to January 1, 2019.
At the first Firefighter Life Safety Summit, held in March of 2004, the national fire service
organizations realized that firefighters and their families must have access to counseling and
psychological support and included this when developing the 16 Firefighter Life Safety
Initiatives. The Public Safety Officer Support Act, predominantly promoted by our sisters and
brothers in law enforcement, validates that first responders undergo psychological injuries.
More must be done to build resilient firefighters, provide access to culturally competent mental
health professionals and support firefighters’ mental health.
Here is what we know about the PSOB changes:
About the Extended Coverage
Previously, the PSOB only covered physical injuries and excluded any coverage for mental
health injuries experienced on-duty.
The law expanded the definition of an injury to include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),
acute stress disorders, and trauma- and stress-related disorders in cases where an officer was
exposed on duty to one or more of the following types of traumatic events:
a homicide, suicide, or the “violent or gruesome death” of a person (including a death
from a mass casualty or fatality event or mass shooting);
a “harrowing circumstance” posing an “extraordinary and significant” danger to the life
of, or serious bodily harm to, any person (including a mass casualty or fatality event or
an act of criminal sexual violence against a person.