WSFFA 2015 Legislative Priorities

The Washington State Fire Fighters’ Association was established in 1923. The mission in part is to represent the volunteer firefighter. It was the case then as it is now, to be vigilant in representing and improving the health & welfare of the volunteer. While diligent, over the years the WSFFA’s efforts began showing real worth in the legislative arena during the 1991 legislative session, when the WSFFA President Joe Basta appointed then Board member T.J. Nedrow as the Association’s Legislative Chairman.  In 2000, the WSFFA increased its investment in the volunteer as the Association began contracting the services of Ms. Tamara Warnke, a Government Affairs Consultant.  Thus began a significant endeavor that has resulted in formation of a WSFFA Legislative Committee for further representation, benefits and success for the volunteer.  Since 1991 the WSFFA tenacious legislative efforts has grown to earn the respect of friend and foe alike.

The legislative focus of the WSFFA in general shall relate to the WSFFA’s overarching priorities of:

  1. Safety
    • Adherence to basic fire ground safety standards.
    • Proper and safe basic fire suppression equipment and personal protective equipment.
    • Promotion of health and wellness standards.
  2. Firefighter Training
    • Adequate and accessible basic Firefighter 1 level training to all volunteers.
    • Realistic and supported training standards.
  3. Compensation – Benefits
    • Compensation for hours committed during engagement on State-Level events.
    • Continuous and adequate statewide firefighter insurance coverage.
    • Adequate pension benefits.
  4. Volunteer Recruitment and Retention
    • Increased and coordinated efforts to statewide and local volunteer recruitment and retention.
  5. Fire Service Funding
    • Adequate funding level that allowing local jurisdictions to accomplish and deliver on their mission to the communities they serve.

Literally hundreds of pieces of legislation are introduced each year that draw the attending of the WSFFA legislative committee. The Legislative Historical Review page  lists legislation signed into Law that benefit or affects the volunteer.

Please refer to our Volunteer Benefit Wish List for an in-depth accounting of suggested benefits for the volunteer.

This website is a useful tool to access a wide spectrum of legislative information, including:  How to find your lawmaker; lawmaker contact info; agendas, committee schedules, and calendars; bill status…and much more….Go to  www.leg.wa.gov Or you can leave a message for your lawmaker by calling the Legislative Hotline: 1.800.562.6000

2015 WSFFA LEGISLATIVE PRIORITIES

  1. Expansion of the current definition of a volunteer firefighter
    • Expands the definition of volunteers that are receive disability coverage and benefits through the BVFF &RO (Ref. RCW 41.24). Legislation will include position function contained in recognized ICS. Funding shall not be of a general fund nature.
  2. Basic Firefighter Funding
    • Further clarifies RCW 43.43.934 on intent and obligation of current O86 funding administered by the State Fire marshal’s office. Allow districts/departments to continue to obtain reimbursement or have training delivered in the field. Changes RCW 43.43.934(1)(e) to allow the direct delivery of Basic Firefighting training to rural fire districts/departments with first priority given to volunteer fire districts/departments.
  3. Establish disability coverage for administrative volunteers
    • Disability coverage for the administrative volunteer. The bill was previously HB 1905 in the 2013 session. This fiscally neutral (general fund) legislation would offer the volunteer or their department to acquire coverage though the BVFF. Approx. 1,500 volunteers. Cost of such coverage now is higher through commercial coverage.

On the radar; Volunteer firefighter presumptive medical coverage. While specific numbers are not known, volunteer firefighters are being diagnosed with cancer. The WSFFA is working with the BVFF, fire commissioners, and fire chiefs in collecting data, forming a strategy that would result in bringing forth legislation; i.e. establishment of medical coverage for specific presumptive occupational related illnesses.

For more information contact President T.J. Nedrow tjn@wsffa.org or, Government Affairs Consultant Tamera Warnke twarnke@gmail.com