Should Volunteer Firefighters Be Paid?
I know it's a silly question, but, should volunteer firefighters be paid for their hours spent working for fire departments?
Well, it's an issue that's come up locally. Here's an excerpt from the Statesman Journal about this situation:
The U.S. Department of Labor has determined Marion County Fire District No. 1 and the Turner Fire Department need to pay back wages to volunteer firefighters who should have been paid as employees. The districts will divide more than $100,000 among 29 people: $83,400 from MCFD1 and $16,900 from Turner Fire. MCFD1 Chief Kevin Henson said news of the DOL determination has prompted calls from other agencies, wondering if they are in danger of similar action. “Since Wednesday night, I’ve gotten three or four calls from other fire chiefs,” Henson said. “They all want to know if they are doing the same thing.” Henson said the district had previously relied on a 2006 guidance letter from the labor department that said volunteers should be paid no more than 20 percent of total compensation received by full-time firefighters.
I had Chief Henson on the Northwest Show today, and he explained just how complicated this issue has become.