For Immediate Release:

The West Virginia State Fireman’s Association breathes a sigh of relief

Action to allow Volunteer Fire Departments to get Broadform coverage through the Bureau of Risk and Insurance Management (BRIM) seen as a positive step in resolving the Worker’s Comp dilemma.

Charleston, WV, July 28, 2010: The West Virginia State Fireman’s Association is breathing a sigh of relief now that the Governor’s Office has secured an agreement with the Bureau of Risk and Insurance Management (BRIM) to provide broadform liability coverage to West Virginia’s volunteer fire department’s through June 30, 2011. While not a permanent solution, this action does avert a pending crisis which would have occurred September 1, 2010 when 129 fire departments across the State would have lost broadform coverage currently being provided by Brickstreet Insurance.

Jim Oldaker, WV SFA First Vice President, said, “While there is still much work to be done, we are very pleased that the Governor listened to our concerns and intervened on our behalf. His actions have allowed fire departments that were considering going idle on September 1, 2010 to remain open and fully operational serving their communities while we continue to work to resolve these critical issues.”

Tom Miller, West Virginia’s representative to the National Volunteer Fire Council, stated, “The issues being faced here in West Virginia with Worker’s Comp are being closely watched by many volunteer fire departments across the country. What we do here to resolve these issues may have a broader impact on the nation’s volunteer fire service as a whole.”

Volunteer fire departments across the state were seriously concerned about continuing operations after September 1, 2010 without liability coverage for their officers and Board members. Many had made the very difficult decision to go idle unless they were able to fully protect their members.

The issue of broadform insurance relates to employer liability for sending employees into hazardous environments or situations – conditions faced by volunteer fire departments every day. Without this insurance, fire line officers and Board of Directors members could be held liable if a firefighter got hurt on an emergency under certain conditions. Brickstreet sent a letter to all of the volunteer fire departments in the state on April 26, 2010 stating that they would not be renewing broadform liability coverage after July 1, 2010. At a June 16, 2010 meeting with the Governor, Brickstreet CEO Greg Burton agreed to continue providing coverage until September 1, 2010 in hopes that a solution could be worked out in a select committee chaired by Secretary of Finance and Revenue Virgil Helton.

Over 80% of West Virginia’s population is protected by volunteer fire departments. There are over 10,000 volunteer fire firefighters in the State of West Virginia serving on over 400 volunteer fire departments. The West Virginia State Fireman’s Association is the active voice of West Virginia’s volunteer fire service.

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