By Colleen Quinn
State House News Service
BOSTON -- As memorial services are held for the two firefighters killed in a blaze on Beacon Street last week, lawmakers are making arrangements to give their families a one-time $150,000 payment because they died in the line of duty.
The family of the Plymouth police officer who died in a motorcycle accident Tuesday evening will also receive the payment, under a bill that was advancing in the House on Wednesday.
According to state law, families of any public-safety employee killed in the line of duty receive $100,000 from the state. House lawmakers on Wednesday morning gave initial approval to a $300,000 supplemental budget -- upping the one-time payment by $50,000.
An aide for House Ways and Means Chairman Brian Dempsey, D-Haverhill, said lawmakers decided to increase the amount because it has not gone up since 1994. The House advanced the bill, H 4002, as thousands gathered in Watertown for the funeral of Boston Fire Lt. Edward Walsh.
Walsh and firefighter Michael Kennedy both died last Wednesday after rushing into a Back Bay apartment building engulfed in flames. The firefighters were trapped in the basement of the building as winds fanned the nine-alarm fire at 298 Beacon St. The cause of the fire remains under investigation.
Walsh was married and the father of three children, all younger than 10. Kennedy, 33, was a U.S. Marine who served in Iraq.
About 30 minutes after the fire broke out, Kennedy was pulled from the basement and rushed to the hospital, where he was pronounced dead. Walsh remained in the building with flames making it impossible for firefighters to rescue him. Thirteen other firefighters were injured.
According to the Ways and Means aide, lawmakers also plan to amend the bill Wednesday to add another $150,000 to help the family of Plymouth Police Officer Gregg Maloney, who died Tuesday evening after sustaining injuries in a motorcycle accident while on duty.
Maloney, 43, was married with two teenage sons. The cause of the crash is still under investigation.
An aide to Senate President Therese Murray told the News Service the Senate plans to take up the bill today and it will likely reach the governor's desk then.