HB 324 Declares PTSD a Disease that May Result from Firefighter Duties

HB 324, Rep. Debbie Armstrong’s and Rep. Melanie Stansbury’s legislation to establish Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as a disease that—when diagnosed in a firefighter without previous health issues—can be presumed to have been caused by the firefighter’s service, passed the Senate late Friday and is now headed to the governor.

“Yes, our firefighters are heroes, but they are also human,” Armstrong said. “We ask so much of them—from running into burning buildings to pulling victims out of mangled cars. It’s time we let firefighters know that we understand the intensity of the work they do and the consequences it can have on their mental health.”

HB 324 amends existing New Mexico law to expand the definition of “Firefighter Occupational Diseases” to include PTSD. In 2017, identical legislation passed the House and Senate, but was pocket vetoed by then-Gov. Susan Martinez.

“This shouldn’t be a political issue,” Armstrong said. “Firefighters risk their lives every day, and they take that risk to keep all of us safe. Whether it’s the result of one truly devastating event or the cumulative impact of being on the scene for many horrific tragedies, firefighters can develop PTSD, and they need to be able to seek treatment. I look forward to this measure finally being signed into law this year.”