Contact legislators about bill
Letters to the Editor
Thursday, May 15, 2014 8:42 AM
To the editor:
This is a letter of concern.
I am a volunteer firefighter in the State of Indiana and has been one for 48 years. I am on the Salamonia Volunteer Fire Department and I am also the District 8B Chairman for the Indiana Volunteer Firefighters Association. My districts are Jay, Randolph, Blackford, Delaware and Henry counties. In 2012 our state government passed a bill that does not allow volunteer firefighters to hold an elected office in the area where they reside. If you can not hold an elected office in the area you live then you cannot hold any elected office. This bill singled out volunteer firefighters only No other group was singled out. Volunteer firefighters provide service (fire protection, rescue service and emergency medical service) to about 75 or 80 percent of the state.
We have become second class citizens in our own state. There are over 600 firefighters that this law affects. At some point in time they will have to decide to keep a job that pays them money (the elected office) or stay in the fire service and give up the paying job. How many of you think these men and women will give up their paying job for a non-paying one? There are not many people in the state of Indiana that are aware of this and some of you could probably care less. But what you need to consider if this bill continues to be enforced will be:
1. The loss of volunteer firefighters in your area.
2. With the loss of the volunteer firefighters the possibility of fire stations closing due to the lack of manpower.
3. If stations close then fire service for your home or business gets further away and this will make your insurance rates go up due to the response time.
4. Many of the fire departments also run rescue and ambulance services so the response time will be increased on these services.
These are just a few of the things you need to be aware of since this has happened. We need the people to get behind their local departments. We need you to contact your legislators and let them know they need to take a hard look at this problem and repeal the law that makes your volunteer firefighters second class citizens. You need to think about where this will stop. Making over 1,6000 dedicated men and women of this state second class citizens by not allowing them to volunteer and hold an office. For example if you are a teacher and they pass a law you can not hold office or a truck driver. So please take a look around and see what is happening in your area and let your legislators know this is wrong.
The law is IC 3-5-9-4 and reads as follows:
Sec 4. (a) An individual who is serving as a volunteer firefighter for a volunteer fire department or a fire department that provides fire protection services to a unit
(1) under a contract, excluding a mutual aid agreement; or
(2) as the unit’s fire department;
May not assume or hold an elected office of a unit that receives fire protection services from the department in which the volunteer firefighter serves.
(b) An individual who:
(1) is an employee of a unit, serving as a full-time, paid firefighter: or
(2) serves as a volunteer firefighter:
In a department that provides fire protection services to more than one unit, excluding fire protection services provided under mutual aid agreements, may not assume or hold an elected office of any unit that receives fire protection services from the department.
So please contact your legislators and get the message out about his law.
Lloyd E. Wright
Salamonia Volunteer Fire Department
IVFA District 8B Chairman