Opinion 98 - 24
FIRE DISTRICTS -- Appropriations and Expenditures (for Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law coverage for a firefighter of a bordering fire company providing on-going services)
VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS -- Disability Benefits (liability for when fire district accepts on-going services of firefighters of a bordering fire company)
GENERAL MUNICIPAL LAW, §209-i: A fire district which, pursuant to General Municipal Law, §209-i(1-a), accepts the services of a volunteer firefighter who is a member of a fire company in a bordering area, is liable for Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law benefits accruing to the volunteer firefighter if injured during the time such services are rendered.
You ask whether a fire district which, pursuant to General Municipal Law, §209-i(1-a), accepts the services of an individual who is a member of a fire company in a bordering area, is responsible for Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law ("VFBL") coverage for that individual.
General Municipal Law, §209-i(1-a) provides that a volunteer firefighter who, because of his or her residence or usual occupation, is regularly in the area served by a volunteer fire company or department of which he or she is not a member, may volunteer his or her services on an on-going basis to the officer in command of the company or department to assist the company's or department's general or emergency ambulance services, or to assist at a fire or other emergency scene. The commanding officer of a fire district, when authorized by the board of the fire commissioners, is empowered, in his or her discretion, to so accept the services of such a volunteer firefighter.
Section 30 of the VFBL sets forth a statutory scheme with respect to which entity is
responsible for the payment of benefits under the VFBL. In general, section 30 provides that the
"home area" of the firefighter at the time of injury is responsible for VFBL benefits (see
Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law, §30[1-6]). Thus, for example, if at the time of injury, a
volunteer firefighter was a member of a fire company of a fire district fire department, any VFBL
benefits generally would be a fire district charge, even if the injury occurred while performing
services outside the fire district (Volunteer Firefighters' Benefit Law, §30; see, e.g., 1989
Opns St Comp No. 89-15, p 30).
December 29, 1998