Legislation would amend FLSA provision to allow volunteerism
The volunteer Firefighter and Rescue Squad Worker Protection Act (H.R. 94, S. 324), introduced by Rep. Herbert Bateman (R-VA) and Sen. John Warner (R-VA) would amend the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) to make it possible for paid firefighters or rescue squad members to volunteer on their off-duty time, without coercion, for the same fire organization that regularly employs them. The legislation would allow firefighters or rescue squad members to waive overtime compensation when they volunteer and exempt employers from being required to pay overtime if their employees volunteer their services without coercion. It would prohibit employers from requiring employees to volunteer their services during any period in which such employees would be entitled to receive overtime compensation.
The present FLSA restrictions have resulted in a loss of volunteers, an increase in spending to maintain current levels of services, and the institution of lawsuits by some jurisdictions, including Montgomery County, Maryland.
“If passed, this legislation would save cities millions of dollars in overtime costs for fire protection services,” observes William Goldfeder, vice-chair of the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) Volunteer Section. Among the fire service groups supporting this legislation, in addition to the IAFC, are the National Volunteer Fire Council and the Maryland State Fire & Emergency Medical Services Coalition.
For an information packet on how to join the Fire and Emergency Services Coalition on FLSA Volunteerism, contact the IAFC Government Relations Team at (703) 273-9815, ext. 308 or 309; fax: (703) 273-9363.