Friday, November 30, 2007

SFD Volunteer Retirement Plan (LOSAP)

Anonymous said...
Did you know that volunteer fireman once they reach 60 years old receive over $600.00 a month retirement check thru the city of Salisbury………..

The above is from the comment section on Albero’s recent post concerning the new fire station in Salisbury. Obviously the commenter is just as clueless as Albero. There is a volunteer “retirement” plan but the $600 figure is a little overstated.

The City of Salisbury funds the plan. It is not unreasonable for the City to do this, as Volunteers are just that --- Volunteers. This program, known as LOSAP, came into fruition in the late 1980’s and was designed to be a tool for retention and recruitment for the volunteer force of the fire department.

LOSAP = Length of Service Awards Program. It basically works like this. In order to be vested in the program the individual must volunteer for at least 5 years. Once vested the member will receive $20 a month for each year served, with a 25 year maximum. The math is easy. A member serving 10 years will receive $200.00 a month for their service. Serve 15 years, $300.00 a month. Once again this maxes out at 25 years for a maximum amount of $500.00 a month.

However there are a few “buts” to consider. First there is criteria that must be met on an annual basis. The member must attend a certain amount of training, must attend a certain percentage of corporate meetings, must maintain a percentage for alarm response etc, etc, etc.
The member’s performance in all these areas is reviewed annually. Members not making the grade are excluded from the plan for that year. In other words, it is not possible to sign up as a volunteer, do nothing for 25 years, and pull a retirement check from the city.

Another point to consider is a member cannot collect any of these funds until he/she reaches age 60. Therefore a member joining at age 20, making good each year on his/her obligation can “retire” at age 45. However the member still must wait another 15 years before drawing the pension. It is doubtful a member would cease to be a member at age 45. Anyone committing 25 years to the volunteer service would indeed be passionate enough about the obligation to continue to serve, and many do. It is very possible members would retire with much more than 25 years service and still only be eligible for the maximum allowed. My sources inform me there are currently only 3 members receiving the maximum benefit. This is a small price to pay for the savings these men and women have afforded the City for so many years of service for free.

I also understand, but as of yet have not verified, that othe local governments in the area also provide a similar plan for their volunteers.


straight shooter said...

Thanks. I was going to drop you an e-mail asking how the program worked. You beat me to it.

Inside Looking Out said...

I personaly find nothing wrong with doing this for the people who give so much of their own time for that many years freely. I did my normal checking with sources that i trust(yes some being career firefighters) and they all basically said *Quote..What's the get their time and abilities for free for all those years and what else is in it for them? unquote* I have to agree with that attitude, what else do we give the people that do that job for basically nothing? A couple mentioned that on ones death, they can if desired, recieve a firefighters funeral(I'm sure Mr. Albero would view that as a waste of taxpayer monies like he views fire equipment at parades).

They can also recieve at no charge to them, pulled backs, shoulders, hernia's, crushed hands, feet, broken fingers, backs, necks, arms, legs, cuts, bruises, strains, sprains...and the list goes on and on and on!!

I'd say at a price of $500.00 a month AFTER the age of 60yrs. and with having to be within all the guidelines set forth....that's a pretty fair bargain!!

gull92 said...

A well spent use of tax money, I would say. Thanks for the info on the program!

Bill Carey said...

LOSAP is probably one of the better retention tools available to Maryland volunteer firefighters in their respective municipality or county. In Prince George's County, the age is 55 with 25 years of certified service, gathering $225.00 with an additional $4.00 for every year after 25 years and no maximum benefit. Surviving spouses receive 50% and a burial benefit of $5,000.00.
Maryland volunteer firefighters are also entitled to a $3,500.00 subtraction from their Maryland State Tax, provided they attain the required points.
This infomation is provided through the Maryland State Fireman's Association, Incentives Program Committee.
It may not be beneficial or highly valued by the out-of-town college student volunteer, but for the local long-time resident volunteer, it is a nice benefit to have and doesn't create a financial hardship on the departments. It also isn't "easy money"; to accumulate your points each year you have to be a active, well-rounded, educated, involved member of the department. Those who like to coast by will not make their totals.