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  1. #1
    Forum Member
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    Feb 2002
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    Presto, Pennsylvania
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    Question SAFER grants and VFD's

    Couple questions on the SAFER grants that hopefully someone can provide me some answers or a direction to look for them.
    In reading the lawyer speak of the grant requirements, I do not see volunteer fire departments specifically, just local government references. 1. Do these grants need to go through our local municipality? 2. Once we hire a person full time hourly, does that mean they are no longer allowed to "volunteer" for our department and must be paid anytime they do work for the department? A neighboring chief is trying to tell me that the law has changed and VFD's can stretch the rules when it comes to paying full time employees that are also volunteers. I really don't see that happening.
    I have a lot of other concerns with workers comp and other issues, but any help on the above would be greatly appreciated. Thanks.


  2. #2
    FH Mag/.com Contributor
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    You cannot be paid and volunteer for the same organization in the same job capacity per federal law. So you can't have a paid firefighter volunteering also. What you can have is someone that is hired as a business administrator whose job doesn't entail firefighting duties, and whose boss (the VFD) allows them to respond to fire calls out of the kindness of their hearts. You can also hire 'maintenance personnel' under the same guise.

    But since SAFER only allows for the hiring of firefighters, you can't hire any of your current volunteers as a paid FF and allow them to continue to volunteer as a FF. That crosses the workman's comp, insurance, and other good things you mentioned. Besides the fact that your hiring practices have to comply with EEOC and all of the other fair hiring regulations, including advertising the positions, impartial interviews, etc, etc so hiring from within is tougher to do and still appear impartial anyway. But that leads to the discussion of why hiring from within kills your argument for more people, because you may gain 1 paid person, but you lose 1 volunteer the other 100 or so hours per week. Even though no one is available that much, you still are robbing Peter to pay Paul.
    Brian P. Vickers
    www.vickersconsultingservices.com
    Emergency Services Consulting
    Westlake VFD - Houston, TX
    Proud Member IACOJ - Redneck Division

  3. #3
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    Thanks Brian. Any thoughts on this: this same chief is paying full time EMS employees under the VFD banner. All the other EMS companies in this area, even though affiliated with VFDs, are separate non-profit corporations due to these issues (paid and volunteer in the same barn). This one is running everything under the VFD and using SAFER grants as their loop hole, even though they did not receive one.

  4. #4
    FH Mag/.com Contributor
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    Not following how they're using the SAFER grant as a loophole if they didn't get one.

    The EMS-FF split is fine, as long as the paid people are EMS only and not authorized or equipped to engage in FFing duties while being paid, and they do not volunteer to ride the ambulance as EMS personnel either. As long as they do not volunteer to do what they get paid for and vice-versa it's fine.

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