Pennsylvania Volunteer Firefighter Workers’ Compensation Lawyer
Firefighters provide essential emergency services to communities throughout Pennsylvania. Many firefighters are volunteers, not full-time professionals, yet are still expected to respond to calls and provide other integral support services. And that means these volunteers also risk serious injury–and even death–in the performance of their duties.
Until recently, Pennsylvania law only provided workers’ compensation benefits for active volunteer firefighters who were injured while actually responding to emergency calls. But in October 2020, the Pennsylvania General Assembly passed new legislation designed to expand the number of volunteer firefighters who are eligible for workers’ compensation. The law now protects those who provide vital operational support to the firefighters in the field as well.
If you are a volunteer firefighter injured in the line of duty and have questions about your eligibility for benefits, our Pennsylvania volunteer firefighter workers’ compensation lawyers can help. We can sit down and review your case with you, and if necessary represent you in legal proceedings designed to get the workers’ compensation benefits you are entitled to under Pennsylvania law.
Senate Bill 94 and Its Impact on Volunteer Fire Companies
The October 2020 legislation, known as Senate Bill 94, adds three new categories of persons who are considered “members of volunteer fire departments or volunteer fire companies” for purposes of workers’ compensation law. These categories are:
- Officers and directors of a volunteer fire department or company.
- Individuals who have been appointed as a “Special Fire Police Officer” under Pennsylvania law.
- Members of volunteer fire departments or companies who “provide necessary operational support but do not respond to emergency calls.”
With respect to the third category, the term “operational support” can include volunteer firefighters who are responsible for maintaining equipment, providing information technology support, and performing administrative or fundraising tasks. These activities must, however, be “conducted on a regular basis” and approved by the local government or organization responsible for purchasing workers’ compensation insurance for the company or department.
SB 94 further extends workers’ compensation protections to members of any “volunteer ambulance corps” along the same lines, and using the same categories, as volunteer fire departments. In other words, workers’ compensation now covers active duty ambulance corps members who respond to emergency calls, as well as officers, directors, and volunteers who provide regular operational support.
It is important to emphasize that SB 94 only applies to volunteers who play an active duty or operational role in their departments or companies. The law expressly excludes anyone who is considered a “social member” of a department, i.e., someone who volunteers primarily to fraternize with firefighters or participate in social events.
Have You Been Injured While Working for a Volunteer Fire Department or Ambulance Corps?
Volunteers are often the backbone of our local first-responder capacity. With recent changes to Pennsylvania’s workers’ compensation law, many of these volunteers will now be treated fairly should they survive a duty-related injury or occupational illness. And if you need help pursuing a claim from an experienced Wilkes Barre workers’ compensation attorney, contact the Figured Law Firm today at 570-954-9299 to schedule a free consultation.