This is somthing I recieved in an email.



Health Care Reform Threatens Volunteer Fire/EMS


The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (PPACA, also known as "Obamacare") requires employers with 50 or more full-time employees to provide health insurance to full-time empoloyees or face a tax penalty. The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has determined that for tax purposes, volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel are "employees" of the agencies that they serve. Previously, this determination was only significant with regard to how benefits that volunteers receive are reported to and taxed by the federal government. With passage of PPACA, however, volunteer fire and EMS departments could end up being required to provide health insurance to volunteer personnel who "work" for the agency they serve for 30 or more hours per week on a regular basis.


The IRS is in the process of developing final implementing regulations for the PPACA and Congress is holding hearings to identify potential issues of public concern associated with the law. Use the NVFC's Capwiz service to let the IRS, Congress and the President and Vice President know that fire and EMS agencies cannot afford to provide health insurance for volunteer personnel and that volunteers do not have an expectation of receiving such benefits from the agencies that they serve.

But I am wondering how or if this will affect volunteers for; say The Red Cross, United Way, Boy Scouts, and on and on.

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How so?  Do you think having to pay for health insurance in some circumstances will make it viable to replacevolunteers with career firefighters?  If so either you are insane or math is not your strong suit.


Let's say just for round numbers you hire career firefighters to replace the volunteers.  a common work week for career firefighters is 48 hours (some work less some work more).  Let's make the starting pay $10.00 an hour, far too low, but makes for easy math.  48x10x52=$24,960 a year in salary, again far too low but it works for this scenario.  Now replace your 30 member volunteer FD with 30 paid guys.  30x$24,960=$748,800, now you still need to add insurance, benefits, and retirement to the cost of those career firefighters.  This puts you well over a Million dollars a year.  So as much as I would love to have my local volly FD become full time this insurance issue will simply NOT make it happen.  Sorry to burst your bubble.


By the way, I am a retired career firefighter, and a member of 2 volunteer fire departments, so I have no axe to grind either way on this.

I'm not sure how many volunteer departments out there that have guys putting in 30 or more hours a week. I suppose maybe some real big departments that do a on call rotation but for the most part I don't think many. Like Don said I don't think there is a small town or village that could afford to replace their volunteers with paid. So I have to believe the debate Career vs. Volunteer will live on. 

If it requires 50 or more volunteers to fall in that category I don't think my Vol Dept will ever have a problem with that.

I can't think of any department around here that would have people putting in enough hours per year (that's how it's actually figured, averages out to about 30 hours a week) that the Department would have to provide insurance. Granted, we have small departments and don't make a lot of runs every year, but I don't really think it will affect larger departments too much either.

volunteer fire and EMS departments could end up being required to provide health insurance to volunteer personnel who "work" for the agency they serve for 30 or more hours per week on a regular basis.

30 or more hours per week is quite the number for many volly depts, especially on a regular basis. I would doubt just carrying a pager and ready to respond would consitiute into that number of hours. This would have to be actual time working, be it on response, or working in the station in a duty capacity.


But I am wondering how or if this will affect volunteers for; say The Red Cross, United Way, Boy Scouts, and on and on


I would say there is a difference in regards to the volunteers of such organizations and that of a volunteer FF. The biggest difference is that despite the "volunteer" label of such FFs, they really are employees of the dept, or jurisdiction. If a FF is injured there is work comp issues and so forth that the employer has to deal with and in many if not most cases, volly FFs are compensated monetarily. You really don't see too many "true" volunteer fire depts anymore.


When it comes to volunteers in other such organizations, you don't have the compensation aspect involved, nor the employment aspect. Say one volunteers to be a BSA leader, they would be subject to background, etc, but they aren't compensated at all, nor regarded as an employee.

I know that our department won't. We have less than 20 members, and the average amount of time each member puts in each week is approximately 4-5 hours, some a little more, some a little less (including meetings/training, running calls, and other ancillary activities). We are a small town volunteer department that averages about 130 calls per year.

I don't see this affecting the volunteer world very much.  Like John said, even a true volunteer should be  considered an employee now-a-days with workers compensation.   But let's look at the Obama requirements: You have to have (50) employees in the workplace. So that in itself probably exempts alot of volunteer departments, then the individual employee has to work (30) hours a week to recieve mandatory coverage.  Carrying a pager will not be considered "working" so then the work count hours will be emergency response, maintenance, training, or official department business... and that will exempt probably 95% of those departments that may have (50) or more volunteers.


What I am seeing is fire departments that have temporary full-time, 30+ hour part time or per-diem firefighter - medics that will WILLINGLY pay the fine because it is thousands cheaper than offering a real cost insurance package. So basically it will be more cost effective to not offer Obama Care and wait for the audit.


The real abusers of the intent will be companies that have thousands of employees like Wally World, who will not allow employees to go over the rule of 30 hours and they will just carry more 20 hour part time employees to fill the shifts, thus avoiding Obama Care and still maintaining their CEO and Management profit margins.  If you have no clue what I am talking about go to youtube and search "The High Cost of Low Prices, the Wal-Mart Story" 



I would probably add that the majority of volunteers work elsewhere and probably a good chance they may have health insurance through another means, IE self, or employer, thus reducing likliehood of volly depts having to worry about this.

With only 20 active members, only 9 of those actually interior firefighters (the rest are fire police and drivers) I dont think that will affect us either.  Without any calls we do Monday nights; first one is the department meeting, second one is the commissioners meeting/maintenance night, the others are drills and we are only there for about 3 hours each night.  Add a call or two and you are looking at maybe 10-15 hours a week.  I dont think this is an issue.

Like many others who have responded we have fewer than 50 members.

There's always a workaround or a loophole. If you have more than 50 employees all you have to do is divide them in half and establish two companies.

I certainly hope the ACA doesn't affect the fire service. I'm confident it won't change the status quo,

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