Queens Leaders: Protect Firefighters on Duty

New law aims to prevent bystanders from interfering with emergency medical care.

A new law to protect firefighters in the course of their duties has just passed the state Senate and is on its way back to the assembly for another shot at the governor’s desk.

The law, which was co-sponsored by Queens state Sen. Tony Avella, D-Bayside, would make it a class A misdemeanor to obstruct firefighters administering emergency medical care to a victim at the scene of an incident.

State Sen. Toby Stavisky, D-Forest Hills, who voted in favor of the legislation, said it’s a common sense measure that should have been law long before now.

“Firefighters are often called upon to save lives. During a life or death situation, no one should prevent or prohibit a firefighter from completing his or her job,” Stavisky said. “Firefighters have to perform at break-neck speed, and lives are literally on the line. We can’t afford to have their efforts hampered. By passing this legislation we now can put the victim first and hold the individual who obstructs the said firefighter accountable.”

The law was inspired by an incident in upstate New York. A firefighter was attempting to administer medical care to a victim injured in a fire and was attacked by an agitated bystander.

The law, which died in committee in the state Assembly in January, will now be resubmitted.


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