First responders are on the front lines of tragedies in communities across the country, and many advocacy groups have called for greater support on the municipal, state and national levels. From protection against the hazards of their jobs to simply recognizing the selflessness of these individuals, many have already begun to take action on programs and initiatives to improve the quality of life of first responders. 

Luckily, the federal government – along with state legislatures – appears to be following suit, passing new bills and acts ranging from health care and recognition of those who have fallen in the line of duty to legal protection and beyond. A combination of civilian-driven programs and governmental moves will hopefully work in the best interests of first responders, enabling them to stay safe, complete their duties and have a strong quality of life following retirement. 

Moves made on Capitol Hill
The St. Joseph News-Press recently reported that the U.S. House has completed and voted in favor of a bill titled the Fallen Heroes Flag Act, and that President Barack Obama is expected to sign it into law soon. The source noted that the Senate also passed of the act, which will put a flag in the nation's capital that recognizes first responders who have died while on the job, including police officers and firefighters. 

"We can never in any way fully repay the debt we owe them or that we owe their families," Missouri Senator Roy Blunt, who created the legislation and acts as the Senate Law Enforcement Caucus' co-chairman, explained, according to the news provider. "These are people who go to work every day, with the greatest goal for their families being that they come home safely that day, and they have more reason to worry about that than most of us have. All we can offer instead is our gratitude."

First responders are getting recognized under a new national act. First responders are getting recognized under a new national act.

The St. Joseph News-Press also quoted Florida Representative Rich Nugent regarding his sentiments on the bill, pointing out that he was in law enforcement for nearly 40 years before entering the political theater. 

"It's really lifting up all of our first responders," the source cited from Nugent's statement. "This is not a huge thing, but I'll tell you what: To a grieving family, it is a small token of the appreciation that the United States of America and this Congress … can bestow on a family at their deepest sorrow."

State-level action
A state bill has been signed into law in Florida by the state's Governor Rick Scott to give spouses of fallen first responders rights to their late husbands' and wives' salaries for their entire lives, Fox 13 reported. The news provider explained that the bill was championed by a widow of a sheriff's deputy who was killed in the line of duty. 

Protecting first responders and their families ought to be a priority in the coming years, as these selfless individuals put their lives at risk every day to protect their communities.