West Virginia has 419 Fire Departments that protect over 80 percent of the states population and over 90 percent of the state's area. They are required to carry Worker's Compensation coverage for their members in order to be allowed to operate. If they don't have coverage(s), they are issued a "CEASE and DESIST" Order by the State Fire Marshal. Many departments have a budget around $40,000.00 to go on each year and have to pay Workers Compensation out of this budget taking 25-50 percent of their budget. On Feb. 4, members of local fire departments went to the state capital for Firefighters Day - the mission to get legislation to help fire departments.
There is a bill currently in legislature HB2199 that can help lift some strain off of departments, but this is still not a complete fix. All fire departments are facing the strain and a permanent fix for workers compensation is a big concern. We have talked with senators and delegates on an amendment that would give back a percentage of the tax on insurance, then take that money and use it for workers compensation, the WVU Fire Service ext.( for education/training) and the rest be dispersed to departments for operations of the departments.
This would help eliminate the high cost for training help with workers compensation payments and give departments the opportunity to upgrade equipment with the money they receive for a budget to operate with. While we were there SR23 was adopted by the senate and senators recognize a need to help the fire service with the workers compensation issues. We also would like to thank our representatives for the time they gave us.
Kent Leonhardt Kent.Leonhardt@wvsenate.gov (304)357-7827
Jeffrey Kessler Jeff.Kessler@wvsenate.gov (304)357-7902
William R Romine email@example.com (304)340-7827
David Pethtel firstname.lastname@example.org (304)340-3158
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Deputy Chief Sistersville Volunteer Fire Department