Mayor Johnson asks Public Safety Committee to explore mental health leave for firefighters
Police officers already have the benefit under the Dallas City Code
DALLAS — Mayor Eric Johnson has asked the City Council’s Public Safety Committee to consider allowing firefighters to take mental health leave if they experience a traumatic event in the line of duty.
Currently, the City of Dallas extends up to five days of paid mental health leave per fiscal year to licensed police officers who experience a traumatic event on the job. The leave is being offered for the first time as a result of a new state law, created by SB 1359, which passed during the 87th Texas Legislature’s regular session. The law took effect Sept. 1, 2021.
But in a memo sent Monday to Public Safety Committee Chairman Adam McGough, Mayor Johnson asked the committee to explore extending the leave to firefighters and paramedics in Dallas.
“Our firefighters and paramedics take care of us. Now, we have the opportunity to take care of them,” Mayor Johnson said. “Our firefighters often experience stressful and traumatic ordeals. Sometimes, they have even been involved in life-threatening encounters, such as active-shooter situations and dangerous fires. And like our police officers, Dallas firefighters interact regularly with people who are experiencing the worst moments of their lives.
“We must treat the mental health of our first responders as a top priority.”
Chairman McGough agreed to schedule a briefing on the issue at the February 14 committee meeting.
“The mental and emotional wellbeing of all of our city’s first responders, including our firefighters, is critical. Not only is it the right thing to do to extend to our firefighters and paramedics the same paid mental-health leave benefit currently extended to our licensed police officers, but also, it is a key component of public safety in Dallas,” Chairman McGough said. “I appreciate the mayor’s prioritization of this issue and believe my colleagues and I need to do our part to support our firefighters and paramedics who are subjected like police officers to serious, work-related traumas and stress. It’s time for our city’s leaders to send a strong message to the men and women who serve in the Dallas-Fire Rescue Department that their mental health matters, too.”