Padden bill to protect first responders passed by Senate

Today, as the Senate wrapped up its work for the year on Senate-sponsored legislation, it gave its approval to a measure sponsored by Sen. Mike Padden that would make it a crime to interfere with a firefighter or emergency medical services provider in the performance of their duty.

“I was surprised this law is not already on the books,” said Padden, R-Spokane Valley. “Our firefighters and emergency medical service providers are out in the community providing a necessary service and to think someone would interfere with those services is reprehensible.

“As we heard in the public hearing on this bill, there are far too many instances of our firefighters and emergency-service providers being hindered from doing their jobs, or even assaulted while attempting to render care to others. This bill will allow for law enforcement to take direct action to protect our first responders and allow them to safely complete their critical work.”

Senate Bill 5839, the idea for which originated with Rep. Jesse Young, R-Gig Harbor, would create a gross-misdemeanor crime of interfering with a firefighter or emergency medical service provider, if a person knowingly and intentionally prevents or attempts to prevent a firefighter or emergency medical service provider from performing their official duties. The bill defines an emergency medical service provider as an emergency medical technician, first responder, or trained advanced emergency medical technician or paramedic. The definition of firefighter includes a paid or volunteer firefighter or other employee of a fire department, county fire marshal’s office, county fire prevention bureau, regional fire authority or fire protection district.

If approved by the House and not vetoed by the governor, the bill would cause those convicted of the new crime to face up to 364 days in jail and/or a fine of not more than $5,000.

“Today’s near-unanimous vote sends a strong message that we will protect our first responders,” said Padden. “If you see paramedics trying to save a life or firefighters trying to put out flames, get out of the way, or get arrested.

“Let these heroes and public servants do their job!”

SB 5839, which passed the Senate 48-1, now goes to the House of Representatives for its consideration.