WSFFA Legislative Priorities
2018 WSFFA LEGISLATIVE TARGETS
With the mission of the Washington State Fire Fighters’ Association, “To provide information, education, benefits and representation to the volunteer fire service of the State of Washington in order to enhance their capabilities and professionalism,” WSFFA is focusing on the following areas.
Expansion of the current definition of a volunteer firefighter
Expands the definition of volunteers who are to receive disability coverage and pension benefits through the BVFF & RO (Ref. RCW 41.24). Legislation will include reference to position functions common in the local incident command system. Would cover approximately 1,800 volunteers including PIO’s, chaplains, and fire investigators. Funding shall not be of a general fund nature.
Increasing monthly BVFF&RO Pension payment
Increasing the maximum monthly retirement pension payment amount for qualified volunteers offered by the Board of Volunteer Firefighters & Reserve Officers program.
Establish presumptive medical coverage for volunteer firefighters
Providing 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, WFCA, and WFC in collecting data and formulating a strategy that results in new legislation; i.e. establishment of medical
coverage for specific, presumptive occupational-related illness.
Extending the age to which the volunteer may be enrolled in the BVFF&RO Pension Program.
Creating a Longevity Pension Bonus for the volunteer choosing to remain active longer in the volunteer fire service. The ideal target are volunteers who have recorded 25+ years of qualified service. The goal is to allow members to continue to volunteer and make pension contributions after they are 100% vested in the State offered Board of Volunteer Firefighters & Reserve Officers program.
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. Provides for approximately 1,500 volunteers. Cost of such coverage remains higher through commercial coverage.
Washington State Fire Training Academy funding
Description: The Fire Training Academy is more than 36 years old and in dire need of infrastructure improvements. The State Fire Marshal’s office has identified more than $14 million in upgrades deliver on basic firefighting training. State and federal funding is necessary to deliver all phases of training to the volunteers.
WASHINGTON STATE FIRE FIGHTERS’ASSOCIATION OVER ARCHING PRIORITIES
The WSFFA bases its legislative efforts and support in the six following areas:
a. Adherence to basic fire ground safety standards.
b. Adequate, safe fire suppression equipment, apparatus and personal protective equipment.
c. Sufficient fire station accommodations.
d. Adoption of health and wellness standards and accessibility to recognized to best practice programs.
2. FIREFIGHTER TRAINING
a. Adequate and accessible basic Firefighter 1 level training to all volunteers.
b. Realistic and supported training opportunities to comply with industry standards.
3. COMPENSATION – BENEFITS
a. Compensation for committed hours on declared State-mobilization events.
b. Occupational coverage for all volunteer firefighters.
c. Appropriate volunteer pension benefits.
4. VOLUNTEER RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION
Increased existing recruitment efforts and enhance statewide retention efforts.
5. FIRE SERVICE FUNDING
Adequate funding levels that allowing local jurisdictions to accomplish and deliver on their fire protection mission to the communities they serve.
Collaboration with fire service members, affiliate agencies, organizations and policy makers.
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.