NY bill named for fallen asst. chief would provide workers' comp for vascular ruptures
Whitehall Assistant Fire Chief Jim Brooks Jr. died four months after suffering a ruptured aorta while on duty
By Laura French
ALBANY, N.Y. — A proposed New York bill named after an assistant fire chief who died from a ruptured aorta would provide workers' compensation for firefighters who suffer similar injuries on the job.
Whitehall Volunteer Fire Company Assistant Chief Jim Brooks Jr., 45, died on Sept. 18, 2020, four months after his aorta ruptured while he was responding to a fire call.
The workers' compensation administrator for Washington County, Benetech Adjustments, denied Brooks' workers' compensation claim, citing a preexisting condition. Brooks had reportedly racked up nearly $1 million in medical bills due to numerous complications as a result of his injury, including a series of strokes during surgery that left him unable to walk or use his right arm.
This week, New York state lawmakers introduced the Chief James Brooks Jr. Act, which would ensure that vascular ruptures suffered in the line of duty are covered in the same way as heart attacks.
Family members, friends and colleagues of Brooks joined lawmakers and members of the Firemen's Association of New York in front of the Firefighters Memorial at the Empire State Plaza Monday to announce the legislation. Volunteer firefighters spoke out, saying failure to provide proper compensation for on-duty injuries will discourage volunteering. The bill is sponsored by Sen. John Brooks (D-Seaford), who himself is a 50-year veteran volunteer firefighter, along with Sen. Dan Stec (R-Queensbury) and Assemblywoman Carrie Woerner (D-Round Lake).