New Ind. law helps block firefighters personal information

New Ind. law helps block firefighters personal information
Published: May. 24, 2023 at 6:00 PM CDT
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EVANSVILLE, Ind. (WFIE) - Back in February, we told you about legislation that would help Indiana firefighters become what’s known as “covered persons.”

The bill has now been signed into law.

Becoming a covered person basically means that means firefighters, both paid and volunteer, can apply to be removed from the public record.

It’s similar to being a police officer or judge in that you won’t be able to find their name and address online anywhere.

It comes on the heels of an incident right here in Evansville.

Jonathan Wright is a firefighter with the Evansville Fire Department.

In 2021, he was stabbed in the face just below his left eye.

He got stitched up and finished his shift.

Afterwards, he had to testify in court against the man who had stabbed him.

Out of fear of retaliation, he wanted to take his name and address off of public record.

“I tried to protect my family and our information from somebody that may be willing to do wrongdoings, I guess. Spoke with the assessor’s office, and they denied me. Said, ‘black and white, firefighters weren’t covered under that particular statute,’” said Wright.

After months of work, District 78 Representative Tim O’Brien confirmed House Bill 1578 passed unanimously.

“This is a really good piece of legislation. We’re tasked with improving the lives of Hoosier firefighters, and really happy to make it to this moment,” said O’Brien.

Wright says it’s a great feeling to have the bill officially in place.

He says many of the firefighters who he works with have families, and although they’re there to help people, you never know what could happen on a run. That’s why he along with many of those he works with are looking forward to this added layer of security.

O’Brien says firefighters can officially sign up for these protections on July 1.