Fire Safety Code, Rhode Island

Fire Laws




23-28.36-1. Legislative findings.

23-28.36-2. Definitions.

23-28.36-3. Notification of infectious diseases.

23-28.36-4. Occupational disability for fire fighters.

23-28.36-1. Legislative findings.

The general assembly finds and declares that by reason of their employment, fire fighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians are required to work in the midst of, and are subject to, exposure to infectious diseases, including, but not limited to, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV); that after exposure, fire fighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians are not informed of the exposures; that fire fighters, police officers, and emergency medical technicians so exposed can potentially and unwittingly expose coworkers, families, and members of the public to infectious diseases. The general assembly further finds and declares that all the aforementioned conditions exist and arise out of or in the course of employment.

23-28.36-2. Definitions.

The following terms when used in this chapter shall have the following meanings herein ascribed:

(1) 'Contagious disease' means an infectious disease.

(2) 'Disability' means a condition of physical incapacity to perform any assigned duty or duties in the fire department or emergency medical service.

(3) 'Emergency medical technician' means a person licensed pursuant to chapter 4.1 of this title to provide emergency medical services.

(4) 'Fire department' means service groups (paid or volunteer) that are organized and trained for the prevention and control of loss of life and property from fire or other emergency.

(5) 'Fire fighter' means an individual who is assigned to fire fighting activity and is required to respond to alarms and perform emergency action at the location of a fire, hazardous materials, or other emergency incident.

(6) 'Infectious disease' means interruption, cessation, or disorder of body functions, systems, or organs transmissible by association with the sick or their secretions or excretions, excluding the common cold. Infectious disease includes, but is not limited to, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), hepatitis B virus (HBV), and hepatitis C virus (HCV).

(7) 'Licensed facility' means a hospital, nursing home, medical clinic, dialysis center, physician's office, or the like, as licensed by the province to provide medical care.

(8) 'Police officer' means any permanently employed city or town police officer, state police officer, committing squad member, or other permanent law enforcement officer as defined in § 12-7-21; provided, however, this shall not include the highest ranking officer of any of the departments.

(9) 'Strike force member' means any member of the statewide strike force of the department of attorney general.

23-28.36-3. Notification of infectious diseases.

(a) Notwithstanding the provisions of §§ 40.1-5-26 (disclosure of confidential information and records under mental health law) and 5-37.3-4, (confidentiality of health care information) if, while treating, investigating, or transporting an ill or injured person to a licensed facility, a fire fighter, police officer, strike force member or emergency medical technician is occupationally exposed (e.g. blood borne exposure) to a person who is subsequently diagnosed as having an infectious disease, and the exposure is sufficient to create the risk of transmission of the disease, the licensed facility receiving that person shall notify the highest ranking officer of the treating, investigating, or transporting individual's department of health of the exposure to that person which officer shall then notify the exposed individual. Further, any city or town police department notified of infectious diseases pursuant to the provisions of this section shall, within forty-eight (48) hours, notify any strike force member who was exposed to the infected person.

(b) The notification shall be made within forty-eight (48) hours, or sooner, of confirmation of the patient's diagnosis.

(c) The notified employee shall contact the licensed health care facility to determine the infectious disease to which he or she has been exposed, and to receive the appropriate medical direction for dealing with the infectious disease.

(d) Notification made pursuant to this section shall be conducted in a manner which will protect the confidentiality of the patient, fire fighter, police officer, or emergency technician.

23-28.36-4. Occupational disability for fire fighters.

Any active fire fighter or police officer who is unable to perform his or her duties in his or her department by reason of exposure to infectious disease as defined in § 23-28.36-2, which infectious disease develops or manifests itself as a result of the exposure during a period while the fire fighter or police officer is in the service of the department, shall be entitled to receive an occupational disability, and he or she shall be entitled to all of the benefits provided for in chapter 19 of title 45, as applicable.

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