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  • #16
    Originally posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
    That's a shame that they're having to do W2's. Luckily, the CPA that handles our books hasn't been faced with that proposition yet.
    I think most of us knew it was coming. Frankly, I'm just amazed it didn't happen sooner. Our "volunteer" compensation package -- all in the interest of "Recruitment and Retention" (aka bribery) -- was getting a bit insane. Some of the "volunteers" in our busier companies where making a nice little bundle of beer money tax-free on the side before the IRS started asking questions.

    Our guys aren't working for compensation either. They're "working" because they enjoy what they're doing. They happen to receive a tax break.
    Honestly? What's more important to them, the token tax break or knowing that they're truly volunteering? Make no mistake, I enjoyed being a volunteer back in the day and even on my POC department I turned my "fire pay" back over to the company more often than not. It just seems wrong to hold onto the title "volunteer" past the point when it's really accurate. It seems unfair to people who really do "volunteer" in the literal sense.

    It all sounds like semantics to me.
    If it was just semantics, people wouldn't be so upset at the notion that they might not actually be "volunteers" anymore.
    "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
    sigpic
    The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

    Comment


    • #17
      Originally posted by BoxAlarm187 View Post
      It all sounds like semantics to me.
      And it is.

      Even though I don't get a cent directly from the fire department, they do provide my workers comp coverage for fire-related injuries. A popular (but expensive) project in many areas is the LOSAP (Length of Service Award Program) - ie, a retirement program for volunteers.

      Both can be considered forms of compensation, thus, by some folks' definition, those receiving them aren't really "volunteers."

      As far as semantics go, I would submit that in most people's minds there are two types of firefighters - career and volunteer.

      Career firefighters are those for whom firefighting is their primary occupation. They may work in other fields during their off time, but their main paycheck usually comes from the fire department.

      Volunteer firefighters are those for whom firefighting is an avocation, something done in addition to their primary occupation.

      Of course, there are myriad variations on the theme, but I think those two definitions cover the bulk of it.
      Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

      Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

      Comment


      • #18
        During the summer fire season we respond out of district to wildland fires in whats called state response areas. These fires can last for days or weeks.

        Our department is compensated by the state for the apparatus and the crew gets paid nicely also. It was hot topic when we first started to do this. It seemed that the same 3 or 4 firefighters had a monopoly. Many, myself included, usually couldn't go for various reasons. Even when we were available we were passed over for the 'chosen few'.

        At one point I found myself on the last day of my vacation laying on the floor changing a starter in our wildland engine. I was asked to hurry because the crew couldn't get paid while the rig was out of service. I was 'volunteering' my time so that they could get paid.

        We've since then improved our policies regarding this issue
        My wise and profound comments and opinions are mine alone and are in no way associated with any other individual or group.

        Comment


        • #19
          Originally posted by tree68 View Post
          Volunteer firefighters are those for whom firefighting is an avocation, something done in addition to their primary occupation.
          Let the record show that it was a volunteer who first referred to it as a hobby in this thread.

          Of course, there are myriad variations on the theme, but I think those two definitions cover the bulk of it.
          I think that you really need to add a third significant category, Paid-on-Call, whether John Q. Public understands the distinction or not. The blank spaces between volunteer & POC and POC & career can be gray areas but those three stand out as qualitatively distinct, IMHO.
          "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
          sigpic
          The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

          Comment


          • #20
            $$$

            We have Volunteers and they are paid per call. DeputyChief is correct and we will change next year to Paid-Call and Career Firefighters.
            Respectfully,
            Jay Dudley
            Retired Fire
            Background Investigator
            IACOJ-Member
            Lifetime Member CSFA
            IAFF Alumni Member

            Comment


            • #21
              A clothing allowance is not compensation.
              I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

              "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

              "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

              Comment


              • #22
                Originally posted by ChiefKN View Post
                A clothing allowance is not compensation.
                If I may ask, what is it then?
                "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
                sigpic
                The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

                Comment


                • #23
                  Originally posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
                  If I may ask, what is it then?
                  An accountable or non-accountable reimbursement plan. Depends on how it is administered. Ideally as an accountable plan.

                  Not to mention that there are other IRS rules that allow payment to volunteer firefighters that are excluded from income. There has also been some publications from the DOL about this very topic.
                  Last edited by ChiefKN; 12-28-2010, 10:15 PM.
                  I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

                  "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

                  "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

                  Comment


                  • #24
                    Originally posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
                    Let the record show that it was a volunteer who first referred to it as a hobby in this thread.
                    A rather demanding one, as it were.

                    I was actually taking my meaning from the Latin root - a (from) vocation (job/skill). Definition #3 here .

                    But you are right - for many of us it is analogous to a hobby - something we do with our spare time. Some people garden, some play golf, some build model railroads. We fight fires.

                    I think that you really need to add a third significant category, Paid-on-Call, whether John Q. Public understands the distinction or not. The blank spaces between volunteer & POC and POC & career can be gray areas but those three stand out as qualitatively distinct, IMHO.
                    I don't disagree. But I do maintain that even a POC firefighter still fits my basic definition of someone for whom firefighting is not their primary job. The only difference between POC and "pure" volunteer when the tones drop is that the POC is gonna get a check later, and I'm not. They still have to worry about leaving work, getting up to go to work in the morning, etc.
                    Opinions my own. Standard disclaimers apply.

                    Everyone goes home. Safety begins with you.

                    Comment


                    • #25
                      Originally posted by ChiefKN View Post
                      An accountable or non-accountable reimbursement plan. Depends on how it is administered. Ideally as an accountable plan.
                      How does that affect whether or not it's compensation? Funding/reimbursing expenses is still a form of compensation.

                      Not to mention that there are other IRS rules that allow payment to volunteer firefighters that are excluded from income. There has also been some publications from the DOL about this very topic.
                      Not relevant to the question of compensation. The IRS rules simply delineate forms of compensation that are and are not taxable as income.
                      "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
                      sigpic
                      The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

                      Comment


                      • #26
                        Originally posted by tree68 View Post
                        A rather demanding one, as it were.
                        Agreed absolutely -- and more demanding every year.

                        I was actually taking my meaning from the Latin root
                        No doubt, but its most common English synonym just cried out from the screen. :P

                        We fight fires.
                        Not too shabby as hobbies go, eh?

                        But I do maintain that even a POC firefighter still fits my basic definition of someone for whom firefighting is not their primary job.
                        Agreed, but it doesn't fit either the volunteer or career category either.

                        The only difference between POC and "pure" volunteer when the tones drop is that the POC is gonna get a check later, and I'm not.
                        That's a pretty significant difference, IMHO.

                        They still have to worry about leaving work, getting up to go to work in the morning, etc.
                        By the same token, they also both have the option to not leave work, not stay out all night, etc. The difference is uncompensated versus compensated avocations. In this case, the simple distinction between vocation and avocation isn't sufficient to describe the difference between significant broad categories.
                        "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
                        sigpic
                        The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

                        Comment


                        • #27
                          Originally posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
                          How does that affect whether or not it's compensation? Funding/reimbursing expenses is still a form of compensation.
                          Reimbursing and compensating are completely different.
                          I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

                          "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

                          "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

                          Comment


                          • #28
                            Originally posted by ChiefKN View Post
                            Reimbursing and compensating are completely different.
                            Not at all; reimbursement is just one form of compensation. For instance, a department might reimburse someone for clothing/uniform expenses as compensation for their out of pocket expenses.
                            "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
                            sigpic
                            The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

                            Comment


                            • #29
                              Originally posted by DeputyMarshal View Post
                              Not at all; reimbursement is just one form of compensation.
                              Negative, Ghostrider.

                              Not when considering employment/volunteer status. While it may be compensation as webster's defines it; it is not pay.
                              I am now a past chief and the views, opinions, and comments are mine and mine alone. I do not speak for any department or in any official capacity. Although, they would be smart to listen to me.

                              "The last thing I want to do is hurt you. But it's still on the list."

                              "When tempted to fight fire with fire, remember that the Fire Department usually uses water."

                              Comment


                              • #30
                                Originally posted by ChiefKN View Post
                                Not when considering employment/volunteer status.
                                You're obscuring the point by adding qualifiers that are irrelevant.

                                Volunteers do what they do without compensation: That's what makes them "volunteers."

                                A clothing allowance is a form of compensation.

                                The more compensation someone receives for a job (particularly systematic compensation), the less like a volunteer and more like an employee they become.
                                "Nemo Plus Voluptatis Quam Nos Habant"
                                sigpic
                                The Code is more what you'd call "guidelines" than actual rules.

                                Comment

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