Volunteer Fire Service Recruitment and Retention
800-FIRE LINE to be Discontinued on January 1, 2021
The Commission on Fire Prevention & Control received notification from the National Volunteer Fire Council’s (NVFC) Board of Directors they will be discontinuing the 800 FIRE LINE program as of December 31, 2020.
The Commission has served as the 1-800 FIRE LINE answering point here in Connecticut for approximately 20 years and during that time referred nearly 500 individuals to volunteer fire and EMS organizations for possible membership. We also regularly responded to calls from the public for fire service related information as well as career job opportunities.
Over that time, many fire departments throughout the state erected signage and other literature and advertisements promoting the 800 FIRE LINE phone number to citizens in their community. Please begin to remove the signage and or change the contact number to the individual in your organization responsible for membership recruitment.
We thank you for your support over the years and hope the program may have benefited you in some way. The Commission will continue to work with the Connecticut Fire Chiefs Association in support of their Volunteer Workforce Solutions Program to ensure a coordinated effort in volunteer recruitment & retention.
- National FIRE LINE Program
- 1-800-FIRE-LINE Aids CT's Recruitment Challenges
- Sample Tax Abatement Ordinance Language
- Public Law 110-142 Tax Relief to Volunteer First Responders
- 1-800-FIRE-LINE - Connecticut Volunteer Recruitment - ON Line Form
- Recruiting and Retaining Volunteer Fire and EMS Personnel
- Study of the Recruitment and Retention of Volunteer Firefighters in CT
- NVFC Volunteer Retention Research Report August 2020
Scope of municipal powers. (Volunteer Pension Systems)
CGS Sec. 7-148. (5) Personnel. (A) Provide for and establish pension systems for the officers and employees of the municipality and for the active members of any volunteer fire department or any volunteer ambulance association of the municipality, and establish a system of qualification for the tenure in office of such officers and employees, provided the rights or benefits granted to any individual under any municipal retirement or pension system shall not be diminished or eliminated;
Group Insurance Benefits for Municipal Employees, Volunteer Firefighters and Volunteer Ambulance Personnel
CGS Sec. 7-464. Group insurance benefits for municipal employees, volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance personnel. Age discrimination. (a) Any town, city or borough may, through its authorized officials, provide such form or forms of group life, health and accident and hospital plan benefits for its employees as it deems advisable. Any town, city or borough that provides health and accident and hospital plan benefits for its employees may arrange and procure the same benefits for each active member of a volunteer fire company or department or volunteer ambulance service or company within such town, city or borough, provided the member (1) elects coverage under such plan or plans, (2) pays one hundred per cent of the premium charged and any additional costs for such coverage, and (3) meets the requirements for active status set forth by said town, city or borough.
(b) If the town, city or borough has less than twenty employees, no health and accident and hospital plan for such employees may provide for reduced coverage for any employee who has reached the age of sixty-five and is eligible for Medicare benefits or any employee's spouse who has reached age sixty-five and is eligible for Medicare benefits except to the extent such coverage is provided by Medicare. If the town, city or borough has twenty or more employees, the terms of any such plan shall entitle any employee who has attained the age of sixty-five and any employee's spouse who has attained the age of sixty-five to group hospital, surgical or medical insurance coverage under the same conditions as any covered employee or spouse who is under the age of sixty-five.
Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act (VRIPA)
In December 2007, the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act (VRIPA) was signed into law, prohibiting the federal government from taxing any property tax benefits and up to $360 per year of any other type of benefit provided to volunteers firefighters and EMS personnel by a state or local unit of government. Language was included in the Heroes Earnings Assistance and Relief Tax (HEART) Act, which was signed into law on June 17, clarifying that those benefits exempted from federal gross income are also exempt from social security and Medicare (FICA) tax. Since passage of the HEART Act, the Internal Revenue Service has posted instructions online explaining the new tax benefits and how volunteers can take advantage of them.
Office of Legislative Research (OLR) Reports
The Northeast Group of the Federal State and Local Government (FSLG) division of the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has produced the following articles that cover issues they frequently encounter when examining or interacting with employers that maintain fire departments within the region. Note that the regulations are the same regardless whether the fire department is paid or volunteer.
The IRS contact person for Connecticut regarding these issues is: