Widow of Dallas firefighter fighting for extension of benefits for families of first responders who die off duty

Earlier this week, the city of Dallas touted its new budget as prioritizing public safety.

The widow of a Dallas firefighter says the budget still leaves survivors, like herself, stranded.

Kristi Walters, the widow of a Dallas firefighter, is struggling to pay for health insurance for her three boys.

When her active duty husband died suddenly, the city wasted no time in sending out her insurance cut off notice.

“Seven days after my husband died, they cut my family's health insurance,” she said. “Put us on a very expensive COBRA plan, at a cost that was twice what we were paying.”

David Walters fought fires for the city of Dallas for more than 19 years.

Now, his wife is fighting for the city to do what she sees as its duty.

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“The city is going to do it to someone else. I will be right there by that fire widow saying no to the city,” Walters added.

David Walters died of a sudden cardiac event the day after Thanksgiving. His death certificate shows the problem with his heart began in his lungs. He was 50 years old.

“All the stuff they breathe, and through their gear, goes into every part of their body, and starts shutting it down,” Walters’ wife said.

If Walter's death had happened while he was at Station 55, Kristi and their three sons would be taken care of.

Instead, the stay-at-home mom, who works as a part-time fitness instructor, was cut off from the city's health insurance plan.

“It is unacceptable, disappointing,” she said.

Wednesday, Dallas Mayor Eric Johnson and Dallas City Council members touted their budget as prioritizing public safety.

“Simply put, this budget is a win,” Mayor Johnson said at the time.

But a proposal to extend health insurance benefits to the survivors of active duty first responders who die off duty went nowhere.

City management believes if they extend such benefits to the families of first responder, they would have to do it for all city employees.

“An example has been set by other large cities. When the city manager tells me it cannot be done, I tell them, ‘Look at Austin, Denver, Fort Worth. It can be done,’” Walters explained.

Walters says that just like her husband never gave up fighting a fire, she's not giving up now.

“I think the city council thinks this is done, it's over, she's going to quit. I'm not going to quit,” she said.

Walters is starting the process to prove that her husband's death was related to years of fighting fires, but she's been told that process could take years.