STATEHOUSE (Feb. 3, 2020) — The House of Representatives Monday advanced State Rep. Jim Pressel’s (R-Rolling Prairie) legislation outlining and strengthening the rights of professional firefighters.
Pressel said while some professional fire departments across the state have already implemented policies outlining the rights of their employees, others have not. He said this legislation would help level the playing field and better ensure these brave men and women are treated fairly.
“Our firefighters put a lot on the line to keep our communities safe,” Pressel said. “They’re willing to risk everything for the health, safety and welfare of the people they serve. Making sure they have basic rights at their jobs is the least we can do to show our appreciation.”
In 2019, the General Assembly passed a law outlining the rights of law enforcement. The law provided specific rules and processes for investigations and disciplinary action, such as guaranteeing police officers the right to representation during an investigation as well as other general rights. Pressel’s bill would extend these same protections to firefighters.
Pressel said one of these rights includes protections for a firefighter’s engagement or refusal to engage in political activity. According to Pressel, fire chiefs are usually appointed by mayors and other municipal executives. He said this leaves plenty of room for politics to be played.
State Rep. Jim Pressel (R-Rolling Prairie) represents House District 20,
which includes portions of LaPorte and Starke counties.