1. #1
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    Thumbs up NVFC-Backed Volunteer Job Protection Bill Passes House of Representatives

    NVFC-Backed Volunteer Job Protection Bill Passes House of Representatives
    On May 9, the U.S. House of Representatives passed the Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection Act as part of H.R. 1684, the Department of Homeland Security Authorization Act. This Act provides job protection for volunteer emergency services personnel responding to a Presidentially-declared disaster for up to 14 days per calendar year.

    “Volunteer first responders shouldn’t be put in the position of having to choose between their jobs and responding to a major disaster,” said National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) Executive Director Heather Schafer. “Passage of this bill eliminates the threat of termination or demotion.”

    The legislation also reduces pressure on emergency managers who rely heavily on the availability and performance of the more than 800,000 volunteer first responders around the country. Pre-emergency planners must know what assets they have available to them so the deployment process can move as smoothly and quickly as possible.

    The Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection Act was introduced as H.R. 1643 on March 22 by Congressman Rob Andrews (D-NJ) along with original co-sponsors Michael Castle (R-DE), Randy Kuhl (R-NY), and Bill Pascrell (D-NJ). The bill language was then offered as an amendment to H.R. 1684 by Congressmen Andrews and Pascrell, along with Congresswoman Carol Shea-Porter (D-NH).

    “I’d like to thank all of our supporters in the House of Representatives for working with us to get this legislation passed,” said Schafer. “This bill means peace of mind for volunteer first responders and improves our nation’s emergency response capacity.”

    The legislation only applies to emergency responders acting in an official capacity. “Self-responders” would not be eligible for job protection under this bill, and employers have the right to ask for documentation from the official supervising the response to verify that the employee was involved in an official capacity.

    H.R. 1684 now goes to the Senate. The NVFC will continue to work to with our allies on the Hill and with other fire service organizations to ensure passage of the Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Job Protection Act in the Senate so that it can be sent to the President and signed into law.
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    To be honest.....whoop de do.
    "This thread is being closed as it is off-topic and not related to the fire industry." - Isn't that what the Off Duty forum was for?

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    It wouldn't make any difference in my state, which already has a tougher law than that one.

    I think most states have volunteer protection laws on the books now. While I applaud the notion that vollunteers ought to be protected, I am enough of a federalist to wonder how the hell this is any of the federal government's business.

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    Quote Originally Posted by randsc View Post
    It wouldn't make any difference in my state, which already has a tougher law than that one.

    I think most states have volunteer protection laws on the books now. While I applaud the notion that vollunteers ought to be protected, I am enough of a federalist to wonder how the hell this is any of the federal government's business.
    The law is specifically aimed at Federal Responses, such as folks who are on FEMA Disaster teams, Wildland Firefighters and others who go out of state for a Federally declared Emergency. And, there are some states where Volunteers have nothing at all like this. Hopefully, this will pass the Senate, be signed by the President, and become law. Next year, I hope to be among those who return to Congress to get the law amended to include local responses. Stay Tuned........
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    The FEMA teams already have protection or the consent of their employer. I'm glad the Congress is spending time on this when there are real issues to address.

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    Does anyone know the vol. firefighter protection laws for Arkansas? Also and forgive me for saying it but I have to, for those few already downing this bill or poo pooing it stop complaining atleast Washington is trying to give firefighters something instead them taking things away from us like the normally do.

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    Quote Originally Posted by hwoods View Post
    The law is specifically aimed at Federal Responses, such as folks who are on FEMA Disaster teams, Wildland Firefighters and others who go out of state for a Federally declared Emergency. And, there are some states where Volunteers have nothing at all like this. Hopefully, this will pass the Senate, be signed by the President, and become law. Next year, I hope to be among those who return to Congress to get the law amended to include local responses. Stay Tuned........
    I understand it is aimed at federal responses, but requests for resources come from the feds through the state (at least they do here). The FS doesn't just call me up and say, "hey, ya wanna come on out?"

    And as soon as the state asks for me, state vollie protection applies.

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    I can tell you that something like this would have helped our volunteer department today (if it were amended to include local responses). Maybe the state and local governments will follow suit? I sure hope so.
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    Be realistic. The "law" says you can't be fired for responding. It does not mean you have to be paid, and it does not say you can't be fired for some other B.S. reason.

    It will do pretty close to 0 for the most part.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Be realistic. The "law" says you can't be fired for responding. It does not mean you have to be paid, and it does not say you can't be fired for some other B.S. reason.

    It will do pretty close to 0 for the most part.
    I'd say keeping your job is pretty much more than 0. No one said anything about being fired for a B.S. reason. Maybe you should lighten up a little.
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Be realistic. The "law" says you can't be fired for responding. It does not mean you have to be paid, and it does not say you can't be fired for some other B.S. reason.

    It will do pretty close to 0 for the most part.
    I was thinking the same thing.
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    I have a question for everyone on the same basis as this topic. I understand there are no lawyers in here, I am just looking for any answers someone can give me.

    I work in Michigan, who does not have a vol protection law. But I live and volunteer in Ohio, which does have the vol law. The company I work for is based in Cincinnati, but the job site i work at in in Dundee MI. How does this law apply. Does anyone know, or have any clue?

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    Quote Originally Posted by FireDawgEMT22 View Post
    I have a question for everyone on the same basis as this topic. I understand there are no lawyers in here, I am just looking for any answers someone can give me.

    I work in Michigan, who does not have a vol protection law. But I live and volunteer in Ohio, which does have the vol law. The company I work for is based in Cincinnati, but the job site i work at in in Dundee MI. How does this law apply. Does anyone know, or have any clue?
    I'm sorry, but I cannot give anything that remotely resembles legal advice without putting myself at real risk.

    You should consult with an attorney, or your state's Department of Labor. Don't forget to mention where your employer is headquartered.

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    I think this is great for the fire service. I don’t know why some of you are so negative about this.

    I for one live along the gulf coast, we could have used this protection a couple of yrs ago. The fed response and local Paid and on call workers were backed up by volunteers on many occasions during the first few days of Katrina and Rita’s after math. Even City’s as big as New Orleans needed help. It took Day’s if not Weeks for all of the Fed recourses to come in to effect. I was one of the lucky ones my home was right between the damage paths of these storms. I was able to leave my wife and child knowing that they were safe and respond to this area and help rotate on crews in areas that were hard hit.

    I would like to see this expanded to the State level as when there is a flash flood or other emergency declared by a Governor.

    The Fed’s are more into USAR than fire fighting aren’t they?

    The Members of the Dept. that I helped had been up for 32 hrs with no relief. This is doing search and rescue and fighting fires. They knew they were in the storms path and were preparing for this. But if you have ever been trough a hurricane you understand there is no one sleeping and very little rest the day or days leading up to land fall.
    Also what happens if the area affected is a predominately a Volunteer district if the PRES calls it a state of emergency or disaster these individuals would be covered for at least 14 days?

    I ask you how can this not be considered a win for the fire service. It bill protects us that’s better than doing nothing.

    As far as not getting paid that is a personal issue. That is something that must be considers by the individual. Being a Volunteer is just that, you can choose to respond if you wish to. If you can’t afford to take 14 days with out pay that is fine. I know of no one that can’t afford at least 2 days (every little bit helps).

    This would also bridge the gap between states would it not?
    Last edited by kldugas412; 05-11-2007 at 05:20 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by randsc View Post
    It wouldn't make any difference in my state, which already has a tougher law than that one.

    I think most states have volunteer protection laws on the books now. While I applaud the notion that vollunteers ought to be protected, I am enough of a federalist to wonder how the hell this is any of the federal government's business.
    Not really, last time I looked into it there was a grand total of five.

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    New Hampshire
    Illinois
    Ohio
    Massachusetts
    New Jersey
    West Virginia
    Kentucky
    Washington
    Pennsylvania
    Delaware
    Colorado
    Missouri
    South Carolina
    Maine


    This is from a grand total of about 2 minutes of looking. I don't have time to go through every state, but these sorts of statutes are now quite common.

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    Louisana has laws on the books but only for Volunteer's that are State Empolyee's Wish it would extend for private business

    K Dugas
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    Quote Originally Posted by Bones42 View Post
    Be realistic. The "law" says you can't be fired for responding. It does not mean you have to be paid, and it does not say you can't be fired for some other B.S. reason.

    It will do pretty close to 0 for the most part.
    Yeah, look at the USERRA "law"--Guardsmen and Reservists are coming back from 1.5 yr deployments to the Sandbox to be told "Oh, gee, ya know we just couldn't get along with your $50k/year spot bein open for a year and a half, soooooo...would you possibly be willing to take a minimum wage position??"

    Any "law" is only so good as the enforcement that follows it...and if USERRA is any example of the sort of "enforcement" you'll see with this Volunteer Protection Act, I agree with the guys who say it'll be about next to worthless.
    My opinions might coincide with someone of importance's POV... I wouldn't know, since I never bothered to ask. My policy is: "Don't ask, don't care."

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    I will be honest. I have no idea what they are really talking about or if it will or will not help. I also didn't do so well in that part of schhol where you are supposed to learn all of the things that it takes for a bill to become a law.

    What I do know is that alot of things make it through the house or the senate and never come to fruition.

    This is most likely another case of counting a chicken.....
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    Quote Originally Posted by MemphisE34a View Post
    I will be honest. I have no idea what they are really talking about or if it will or will not help. I also didn't do so well in that part of schhol where you are supposed to learn all of the things that it takes for a bill to become a law.

    What I do know is that alot of things make it through the house or the senate and never come to fruition.

    This is most likely another case of counting a chicken.....
    What you say would be true if this were a stand-alone bill. However, it was attached as an amendment to the DHS Authorization Bill. Which is very, very, very unlikely to fail to pass in the Senate.

    I think it will become law, and it may help a few people, but I doubt it will have any major impact.

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