The New Mexico House of Representatives unanimously passed HB 277, First Responder Survivor Benefits, a measure that would include survivor benefits for families of  firefighters killed in the line of duty.

“Too often we take for granted the sacrifices and dangers that our first responders put themselves through to provide safety for our communities,” said State Rep. Jason Harper (R-Rio Rancho), who, in part, introduced the bill.

On July 16, 2022, Bernalillo County lost four first responders after a helicopter crash near Las Vegas.

Bernalillo County Sheriff Office’s “Metro 2” helicopter was providing bucket drops and assisting with other needs for fire crews on the ground for the East Mesa Fire, which contributed to NM’s 2022 fire season.

The crash inspired many representatives, including Harper, to introduce legislation that would increase supplemental death benefits for spouses and children of first responders from $250,000 to $1 million.

“I am honored to carry this important legislation that will ensure that our hero firefighters are included in our statutes regarding survivor benefits. The BSCO helicopter crash directly affected my community, and I am hopeful that this legislation can provide needed assistance for their families and honor their sacrifice to public service,” Harper said.

The new legislation refers to kin of firefighters, reserve police officers and New Mexico mounted patrol members as first responders.