Decision: Volunteer Fire Companies Exempt from Providing Insurance

A loud sigh of relief was heard  in fire and rescue stations 'round the country late Friday afternoon upon learning that departments will not have to pay insurance for their members.

The decision was announced by the U.S. Treasurer's Office.

"We got the decision we were after." CFSI Executive Director Bill Webb said in a telephone interview. 

Volunteer emergency services personnel were concerned that under the Affordable Care Act they were being considered 'employers' and therefore, have to provide benefits for volunteers.

Should that have happened, many departments said they may have to close as they couldn't afford it.

Volunteers contacted their elected officials to get the issue resolved.

"I'm happy that the folks on Capitol Hill heard heard the collective voice of the fire service," Webb said.

.Mark J. Mazur, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy, issued the following statement on the Treasury website: "...As a result of that review and analysis, the forthcoming final regulations relating to employer shared responsibility generally will not require volunteer hours of bona fide volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency medical personnel at governmental or tax-exempt organizations to be counted when determining full-time employees (or full-time equivalents).

These final regulations, which we expect to issue shortly, are intended to provide timely guidance for the volunteer emergency responder community.  We think this guidance strikes the appropriate balance in the treatment provided to traditional full-time emergency responder employees, bona fide volunteers, and to our Nation’s first responder units, many of which rely heavily on volunteers.".