Charleston, WV – Leadership and members of the West Virginia State Firemen’s Association were on hand at the State Capital yesterday to discuss ongoing issues with the State’s Fire Service. Hot topics included the volunteer fire department’s Worker’s Compensation reimbursement issue, Recruitment and Retention, obtaining additional funding for Training and a Cancer Presumption for firefighters. Members of the Association met with members of the Legislature to discuss potential proposals that may come out of the Legislative Fire and EMS Committee, chaired by Senator Greg Boso (R – Summersville).
Some of the ideas that have been thrown around the Fire and EMS committee include an addition to the current insurance surcharge fee in order to fund Worker’s Comp for VFDs, income tax relief for volunteer firefighters, allowing fire departments to bill for services and a host of other legislation to help with the issues at hand.
The WVSFA Legislative Chair, John Holstein, had this to say about our Firefighter Day at the Capital: “…we’re early in the session this year. While we don’t have any solid bills that we’re focused on at this time, there are multiple bills in both the Senate and the House that can accomplish our goals. Our hope is to combine these ideas into a omnibus bill that takes care of these fire service issues, a bill that we can point our finger at and say ‘we want this’. We’re anticipating several bills coming to the floor in both Chambers and perhaps a bill from the Governor’s office that will assist with radio communications AND address our funding issues at the same time. We’re anxious to get started on the details of these issues, along with the cancer presumption legislation for ALL firefighters, not just volunteer, but everyone.”
The lobbyists for the WVSFA, Hartman, Harman and Cosco, gave some insight to the WVSFA delegation, as well as suggestions for strategy. It is our hope that our lobbyists may work with the Legislature across the aisles and come to a satisfactory agreement where all sides, including the people we work for, the citizens of West Virginia, obtain a beneficial result of the legislation.