HARRISBURG – Critical members of volunteer fire companies, ambulance corps and rescue squads who are injured in the line of duty would qualify for workers’ compensation coverage under a bill approved by the Senate today, according to the bill’s sponsors, Senators Scott Martin (R-Lancaster) and Kristin Phillips-Hill (R-York).
Senate Bill 94 would ensure coverage for all active volunteers and integral members of a volunteer fire, ambulance or rescue company insured through the State Workers Insurance Fund (SWIF).
A Senate Veterans Affairs & Emergency Preparedness Committee hearing in 2017 included a discussion of problems related to SWIF denying coverage to these critical volunteers.
The legislation would apply to 1,550 volunteer fire companies and 92 ambulance organizations that are insured by SWIF.
“The volunteers who dedicate so much of their time and effort to protecting our lives and property should not have to worry about the financial consequences if they are injured in the course of their duties,” Martin said. “They give so much of themselves to protect the community, so they deserve to know that we will stand up for them when they need us most.”
“Many men and women serve in various capacities with our volunteer fire companies, EMT and ambulance associations,” Phillips-Hill said. “This issue was brought to me by a local constituent who was denied worker’s compensation after being injured during a fire company carnival. This bill will provide peace of mind to all volunteers across the Commonwealth to ensure that no matter the capacity in which you volunteer, that the law protects you.”
The bill would only apply to active volunteers. Social members would not be included.
The legislation is part of a broader focus by lawmakers on the challenges facing fire and EMS companies throughout the state. Last week, the Senate approved two bills to expand grant and loan programs for fire and EMS companies and support volunteer recruitment and retention programs.
Senate Bill 94 was sent to the House of Representatives for consideration.
Terry Trego (Martin)