Volunteer Firefighters Balk at new Health Care Act

The new health care law could be endangering the jobs of those entrusted to keep us all safe.

Under the Affordable care Act, volunteer firefighters may not be considered “volunteers” after all.

In the small Skagit County city of Burlington, volunteers outnumber paid firefighters by three to one. The city simply wouldn’t be safe without them.

The Affordable Care Act, however, could cripple the department by making it pay for health insurance for those 30 volunteers. Since the firefighters actually get paid a meager stipend, and sometimes work more than 30 hours a week, the IRS considers them “employees.” That means they may be eligible for health care coverage. “We’ll have to see if it’s something that is possible,” said Chief David Nielson. “If not, we need to decide how we’re going to function from that point forward.” Cities across the country are trying to figure out how to handle the situation. In some cases they may have to cut desperately needed volunteers. Another option would be to hire more volunteers, but make sure no one works more than 30 hours per week.

That would be difficult, said Chief Nielson, since the number of volunteers had dropped dramatically in recent years. What’s more, volunteer firefighters are already covered under a state health. Some have their own insurance from their full-time jobs.

Burlington Fire is already short-staffed, and volunteer Lt. Steve Cole worries that paying for health insurance could cost lives.

Source:  WAIFC

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This online Fire Blog is solely written by LR Swenson, Author of Short Story, "Seattle Mourn" published in the anthology, "Felons, Flames and Ambulance Rides" released in July 2013. Her Flash Fiction story, "The Firefighter and The Princess" received an Honorable Mention from the Public Safety Writers Association in July 2013 as well. Her extensive skills, knowledge and non-profit experience comes from participating in many Human Services related organizations such as: SAR K9 groups, Disaster SAR, serving in various capacities as [President, Co-President and Secretary], EOC Support, Fire Photographer, Newsletter writer and assisting with Firefighter REHAB [Canteen Services] until 2012. Instilled with her love for writing, she created a Blog from scratch, turning it into a success story. She credits the many friends she has met along the way to providing encouragement, support and lots of great feedback. The NW Fire Blog is all about Everything that has to do with Public Safety, the professionals, volunteers and those who support the great two most important Missions in Life: Saving Lives, So That Others May Live and To Protect and Serve. This is why LR Swenson has created this Blog. Thank you for stopping by. Please check us out on our Social Media pages at: @nwfireblog - Twitter The NW Fire Blog - Facebook nwfireblog@comcast.net - Email
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