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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The NW Fire Blog [owned by First Alarm Images] was created in January 2012 by former Fire Rehab/Photographer, LR Swenson. "Taking care of firefighters has been a great privilege and a huge passion of mine. What better way to honor these amazing men and women but to share their stories, events, training & job opportunities and cover breaking news That's what we live for." The NW Fire Blog is not only for firefighters, but for anyone that is a volunteer or a career-paid firefighter, in EMS, a LEO or a first responder. We salute you in what you all do best! Check out our Facebook fanpage at www.facebook.com/nwfireblog Thank you for stopping by and sharing your stories with us. Be safe friends.
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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