Challenge 6: Legislation and Regulations
Current law and regulations, both at the state and federal level, create impediments to the sustainability of volunteer emergency service organizations (ESOs). In some cases, laws and rules of agencies from the same level of government conflict creating confusion and risk of violation by ESOs. Additionally, many legislative definitions are vague or absent, which leads to ambiguous interpretation of rules and regulations (i.e. line of duty death, definition of a volunteer, etc.). Finally, rules regarding the same matters vary significantly from state to state. Some examples include:
- IRS regulations regarding volunteer compensation
- Workers compensation regulations that create employee/employer relationships
- Union rules preventing career firefighters from being volunteer firefighters
- Environmental rules that restrict burn‐to‐learns
- NFPA standards are not scalable based on organizational differences
Many volunteer-based ESOs are unaware of the challenges they face due to these issues. As a result, there is no consensus within ESOs for volunteer emergency responder legislation.