Retired firefighters who are collecting pensions will no longer be barred from volunteer firefighting duties under a bill sponsored by Rep. Dan Kristiansen, and signed into law this week by Gov. Chris Gregoire.
“Many rural fire districts rely on volunteers and could use the experience of someone who has retired from a life-long career of firefighting. Unfortunately, state law has prohibited retired firefighters who have been collecting a pension from volunteering their services. This measure eliminates that prohibition,” said Kristiansen, R-Snohomish.
Under House Bill 2823, retired firefighters who are at least age 65 and have been collecting a pension for at least three months would be permitted to resume volunteer firefighting. The measure makes clear that those who return are not eligible for disability payments in the event of an injury related to volunteer firefighting duties. Retired firefighters also would need to pass annual medical exams in order to offer their services.
“We have a high population of retired firefighters and collecting a pension who would enjoy volunteering. It seems pretty basic to be allowed to volunteer to help your community and your neighbors. I’m not quite sure why the law didn’t allow it, but now this legislation opens the door so communities can benefit from the vast experience of retired firefighters,” Kristiansen noted.
"House Bill 2823 will be a big help to the public, fire districts, and most importantly, volunteer firefighters,” added Ryan Spiller, spokesman for the Washington Fire Commissioners Association. “Representative Kristiansen's leadership over the years has been extremely beneficial to fire districts and the fire service. I really appreciate all the time and effort he has spent to improve service to his constituents."
The measure gained unanimous approval in both the House and Senate. The new law becomes effective in June.