Hi guys I am from a small Volunteer Fire Dept. and we are trying to determine/figure out a guideline of how long to keep records. Does any one know of a set guideline.
Thanks for your help!
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Thread: Record Retention
03-16-2012, 08:41 AM #1
- Join Date
- Aug 2011
03-16-2012, 10:42 AM #2
- Join Date
- Oct 1999
- Why? It's not like you're going to visit me! But I'm near Waco, Texas
The ambulance service that I work at has to keep their records for at least seven years.NREMT-P\ Volunteer Fire Chief\Tactical Paramedic
Experts built the Titanic, amateurs built the Ark.
03-16-2012, 02:09 PM #3
Check with your state department of health on EMS sheets. IRS says 7 years on financial records. As for actual run sheets, that may be dictated by your state. We keep our sheets 2 years and have everything in Firehouse Software.
03-16-2012, 03:29 PM #4
Can't cite a source, but IIRC, I was told that EMS records must be held for X years after a juvenile reaches the age of majority - which means you could theoretically hold them for 23-25 years if you dealt with a newborn.
But the answer is with your state EMS agency, and state fire, for the fire records.
If there's a reason to hold stuff for any length of time, it's because that "routine" call several years ago might end up in court, through no fault of yours.
On the other hand, because we haven't thrown any of our fire run sheets away, I was able to document our call numbers on our website from the late 1950's...
With the cost of scanners (document type) and storage media these days, you could probably store your stuff electronically for next to forever, as long as the media is of archival quality and continues in use. I've got an awful lot of 5.25" diskettes I'll probably never read again (not that that's really a problem).Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.
Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.
03-16-2012, 04:08 PM #5
- Join Date
- Nov 2002
What tree said...
03-16-2012, 04:41 PM #6
Its DOH policy that PCRs be kept for 7 years or until a minor reaches the age of majority (18 years old). We have the policy that we will keep all records for 18 years just so we dont have to root through them all.
As far as non fire paperwork, like personnell records you should check with your states Department of Labor, even though you may be a volunteer fire department, the firefighters may be considered employees and therefore the records are their employment records.Shawn M. Cecula
IACOJ Division of Fire and EMS
03-17-2012, 11:02 PM #7
- Join Date
- Sep 2009
IMHO, it is best to keep fire run records forever. Never know when something ( HazMat incident, etc.) may end up in court. You may need to rely on those records to prove that you did something or didn't do something. After running many calls, your mind can be "foggy" on the details of an incident. That fire run report can refresh your memory. You may also need those fire run records if a member needs to prove they attended those fire calls, if they need to prove a disability or disease from responding.
Another benefit of keeping fire run reports forever, is if you have a serial arsonist in your community. A teenager can start young and burn things. As he gets older, he might light fires through adulthood. You may need those fire run reports to look back at suspicious fires.
Another overlooked record is maintenance records. Keep those records (servicing, etc.) as long as you own that apapratus or equipment (SCBA, etc.). You may need to look back to see when servicing was done.
If you ever joined a FD or even taken a leadership position in your current FD, you will appreciate all those records from your predecesors.
09-01-2012, 04:09 PM #8
- Join Date
- Feb 1999
- ALIQUIPPA PA USA
Fiscal records - at least 7 years (IRS)
Business meeting records- forever
Medical Records - forever...go ask you local MD how long he keeps his records. The files in the office are active patients, most practices rent storage areas for old records
Employee Records- forever. someone might do background check and you need to be able to verify dates of employment. Volunteer departments are counted as employers.
Vehicle Records - at least as long as you own it. These records should be kept in their own file cabinets away from all others. I know of a handful of incidents involving accidents where the police secured records until they could seized which meant a padlock on the cabinet they were kept. No one had access to any other records during that time because they were locked up. Also keep track of the people that regularly work on your departments vehicles, in the event of an accident lawsuit you can prove the repairs were in accordance to standards.
Check your states laws for companies, somewhere along the line your department was probably incorporated. Also if you are a registered non profit there are probably more rules for 501(c)3's from the IRS.
Just because we are the local fire department does not mean we can do it how we want. We are in effect small business and need to be run on the admin side as that
09-01-2012, 10:07 PM #9
- Join Date
- Feb 2005
- West Point, VA
Directly from our accountant on financial documents:
01) Copies of notices from IRS or VA Dept of Taxation acknowledging that your organization is exempt from income taxes (from IRS) or exempt from Sales tax (VA Dept of Taxation) should be kept forever.
02) You should also keep copies of Exempt Income Tax Returns (forms 990, 990-EZ, 990-T) forever, too.
03) Documents pertaining to purchases of depreciable equipment should be kept until 3 years after it has been fully depreciated - since depreciation life could have been 7 or 10 years, you probably should keep those records for 13 or 14 years.
04) Anything pertaining to real estate purchases should be kept until at least 4 years after you have disposed of, or sold, it.
05) Other documents not falling into the above categories probably should be kept at least 4 years. Since your organization is non-profit and nearly all books, records and tax returns have to be made available to the general public, I suggest that you keep the last 7 years.
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