County fire marshal hiring process change will go to public hearing on Nov. 19

(Oct. 25, 2019) Proposals to increase volunteer firefighter and ambulance company benefits and to change the appointment process for the Worcester County fire marshal were reviewed at the Worcester County Commissioner’s meeting last Tuesday. The benefits for the Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) are retroactively effective July 1, 2019. 

LOSAP was created on July 1, 2000 to help increase firefighter recruitment and retention through a monetary award system based on the length of the volunteer’s active service. Under the old system, volunteers received either a monthly or annual award. 

Volunteers 45 or older on or before Dec. 21, 1999 can select monthly. The benefits are $50 a month for a maximum of 120 months for a total award of $6,000. To receive these benefits, the volunteer must be 60 years old, have completed 25 years of active service or be a life member of Gold Badge Member status. 

Volunteers 44 years and younger as of Dec. 31, 1999 and all new members received an annual award of $200 into an investment account and accrued benefits to the age of 60 or 30 years of active service.

Under the new plan, there would be no age requirement to receive benefits. Volunteers would have to complete 25 years of active service and the benefit awards would increase from $6,000 to $10,000. 

In addition, new volunteers after Jan. 1, 2020 would receive a one-time flat rate of $2,500 retention bonus after five years of active service. According to County Human Resources Director Stacy Norton, the county approved the plan’s concept for the FY20 budget and the commissioners will decide how to fund the benefits. County Commissioner Jim Bunting moved to approve the LOSAP changes and County Commissioner Joshua Nordstrom seconded. 

A proposed amendment for the Worcester County fire marshal hiring process will go to a public hearing at the county commissioner’s meeting on Nov. 19. The Worcester County Fire Prevention Committee, which consists of the fire chiefs for each fire company chartered by the county commissioners, currently would submit a list of names for the commissioner’s consideration for hiring the county fire marshal. 

With the establishment of the Worcester County Human Resources Office, that department now coordinates the application and selection process for all county employees. The amendment would remove the Fire Prevention Committee from the hiring process and redirect it to human resources. 

County Commissioner Joseph Mitrecic called for a vote on moving the issue to the public hearing and Nordstrom seconded the motion.

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