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

2013 The NW Fire Blog

About The NW Fire Blog (TM)

The NW Fire Blog was created as a way to use creative energies such as writing, blogging and photography of fire, EMS, Police and 1st Responders events, happenings and opportunities to share about those, for those in the profession and those who support them. We are "Everything Fire, EMS and 1st Responders" covering stories, events, happenings, opportunities and sharing your to those in the NW and beyond. We can also be found on the following sites: @nwfireblog - Twitter The NW Fire Blog - Facebook, Flickr Contact us at nwfireblog@comcast.net All content and photos as given credit to is the property of Media Madness NW/parent company of The NW Fire Blog. No portion of content or photos may be shared without the express written permission by LR Swenson, owner/writer of this site. [c] 2015 The NW Fire Blog
This entry was posted in 9-11, Aid Rescue, Awareness, Volunteer Firefighter, WA Fire Chiefs Association, Washington State, women and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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