Rights As
A Volunteer
Compliments of
David Koon

A message from...

Assemblyman David Koon Assemblyman
David Koon

Dear Friend,

The Volunteer Firefighter’s Benefit Law is prefaced by the statement: “One of the finest traditions of American community life is the service which people render to others without remuneration.”

It is appropriate for the New York State Legislature to ensure that each individual volunteer be protected by our state and that proper care be taken of volunteer firefighters and their families in the case of death or disability suffered in the line of duty.

I pledge to continue to present and support legislation which protects and helps these dedicated citizens in the performance of their duties.


Albany Office
268 Fairport Village Landing
Fairport, New York 14450
(585) 223-9130

District Office
Room 643 LOB
Albany, New York 12248
(518) 455-5784


The Volunteer Firefighter’s Benefit Law
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Benefit Eligibility

All active volunteer members of a fire company or fire department are eligible for payment as a result of any injury occurring “in the line of duty” for medical, podiatric, chiropractic, psychological (upon referral), rehabilitative and hospital care. In the case of death from such injury, weekly cash payments will be made to surviving dependents.

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What “In the Line of Duty” Means

“In the Line of Duty” covers volunteer firefighters in various emergency situations and many activities compensable under the law, when authorized by the proper authority. Some of these include:

  • participation at a fire, hazardous material incident, alarm of fire or other emergency

  • travel to, from and during fires or other calls to which the company responds

  • inspection for fire hazards or other dangerous conditions

  • attendance at fire instructions or a fire school; instructing at fire training

  • participation in authorized drills, parades, funerals, inspections or reviews, tournaments, contests or public exhibitions conducted for firefighters

  • testing fire apparatus and equipment, fire alarm systems, water supply systems and fire cisterns

  • construction, repair, maintenance and inspection of the firehouse

  • pumping water or other substance from a basement or building

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Individual Service

When volunteer firefighters offer their services on an individual basis to another fire company or fire department within New York State, the responsibility for benefits resulting from an injury in the line of duty will be that of the fire company or fire department (and its “home” political subdivision) which accepted the services.

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Activities Not Covered by Law

There are a number of activities of volunteer firefighters that are not covered under the Volunteer Firefighter's Benefit Law. Some of these include:

  • unauthorized fund-raising activities or practice for, or participation in, any recreational or social activity

  • volunteer firefighter sporting events or contests between bands or drum corps

  • work or service not rendered as a volunteer firefighter

  • work or service rendered while on leave of absence or while suspended from duty

  • work or service performed against orders

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Presenting a Claim for Benefits

Written notice must be given to the Workers' Compensation Board within 90 days of any injury in the line of duty, or of death as a result of such injury, to appropriate officials of the “home” area. However, failure to give written notice can be excused by the Board for a variety of circumstances, including:

  • notice could not have been given

  • a member of a body in charge of, or any officer of the fire department or company knew within the prescribed 90-day period of the injury or death

  • the cause of disablement or death was not known to be due to service as a volunteer firefighter within the prescribed period of time

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Medical Care Provisions for the Service-Incurred Disabled Volunteer Firefighter

Necessary medical care is provided for as long as the injury and process of recovery require.

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A volunteer firefighter does not need to lose time in regular employment to receive the weekly cash payments under the law if the disability is one that results (a) in loss of earning capacity or (b) in loss or partial loss of use of an arm, leg or eye, or loss of hearing. Also, if medical care is necessary, it will be provided, even though there is no time lost from work.

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Earning Capacity

Earning capacity is the capability of a volunteer firefighter to perform on a 5-day or 6-day basis the work normally done in regular employment at the time of injury, or other work that could be considered a reasonable substitute if there is no employment. Every volunteer firefighter is considered to have an earning capacity.

The Workers’ Compensation Board determines the reasonable earning capacity of the volunteer firefighter with regard to the provisions of the law and the work the firefighter could reasonably be expected to obtain and for which the firefighter is qualified by age, education, training and experience.