The National Advisory Committee (NAC) of the Congressional Fire Services Institute unanimously adopted a resolution supporting H.R. 3949, the Volunteer Firefighter and EMS Personnel Job Protection Act, at its annual fall meeting in October. The resolution was submitted jointly by the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) and the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and calls on Congress to pass H.R. 3949, which was introduced by Congressman Mike Castle (R-DE) on September 29, 2005.
H.R. 3949 would protect volunteer firefighters from being fired, demoted or harassed if they miss work because they are activated to respond to a Presidentially declared emergency. Members of the National Guard already enjoy similar job protection under current law.
“When the men and women of the volunteer fire service are asked to respond to a national disaster they shouldn’t have to jeopardize their livelihoods in order to answer the call,” said NVFC Chairman Philip Stittleburg. “This bill is the right thing to do for our nation’s volunteer firefighters and it ensures that they will be available to respond as needed.”
Volunteer firefighters – thousands of whom responded earlier this year to hurricanes that ravaged parts of Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Florida – make up nearly 75 percent of the nation’s fire service. They receive little if any compensation for their services and most of them have full-time jobs away from the firehouse.
“It is critically important that Congress pass this legislation,” said Chief Bill Killen, the IAFC president. “The IAFC and its Volunteer and Combination Officers Section believe that we should protect volunteer firefighters who provide such a significant service to their communities.”
The NAC is comprised of more than 40 trade groups, issue organizations and professional association including the leading fire service organizations in the country.