West Virginia’s volunteer fire departments looking to offset anticipated increases in their workers’ compensation insurance premiums can turn to a website launched by the state auditor’s office.
Auditor Glen Gainer’s office was tasked by the Legislature with developing a program to provide reimbursements to fire departments.
Gainer said reimbursement forms are now available on his office’s website.
“Volunteer firefighters are called on every day to risk their lives protecting neighbors, homes and businesses,” Gainer said. “The cost associated with safely equipping and protecting those brave professionals is rising every day as well. This program will help mitigate at least one of the upcoming cost increases.”
Many departments had indicated they couldn’t afford premium increases and would have to shut down or trim services.
Brickstreet, the long-time insurer for workers’ compensation coverage for the fire department, has said it plans to stop covering volunteer fire departments after July 1. The West Virginia State Firemen’s Association said at least three other carriers are offering the coverage.
Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin signed legislation in April making $5 million available to the fire departments for premiums. Tomblin says the assistance will be available in “a matter of weeks.”