Volunteer Fire Departments in danger of closing


Catons Chapel - Richardson Cove Volunteer Fire Department (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

Catons Chapel - Richardson Cove Volunteer Fire Department (Source: Kyle Grainger, WVLT)

Many are calling it a public safety disaster. Volunteer fire departments everywhere in danger of closing. This is about the Affordable Health Care Act and volunteer fire departments, being required to provide health insurance.

It's scenes like this that make you realize just how valuable fire and rescue squads are, but volunteer fire stations like Andersonville could be gone if the affordable health care law stays as it is.
Chief Bagwell says, "It's going to force an economic hardship because you have to pay ever how much per year per employee."

The IRS currently classifies volunteer firefighters as employees if they're on the job more than 30 hours a week even though the department of labor classifies them as volunteers. So fire departments with 50 or more volunteers are expected to provide health insurance for every one of them. Andersonville Fire Chief Chief Jeff Bagwell says, "Insurance rates would go up, and as they go up then people's insurance will go up. Pretty soon they won't be able to afford insurance."

The International Association of Fire Chiefs and the National Volunteer Fire Council has asked the Internal Revenue Service to let all volunteer departments off the hook of this requirement. The federal government has taken no action, but Chief Bagwell is optimistic. Chief Bagwell says, "The bill will pass and most will be excluded which will be a good thing for all of us."

The Karns fire chief says Congressman Duncan is trying to get the number of volunteer hours raised to 40 instead of 30 so insurance wouldn't be required. The International Association of Fire Chiefs is asking people to contact their congressman and ask them to co-sponsor that legislation.


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