Firefighter health and welfare benefits offer one of the very strong incentives for an individual to chose the occupation of firefighter. These plans include a variety of benefits. including paid vacation, holidays, sick leave, group health insurance and retirement programs.
Health and Retirement Benefits
Because a strong majority of firefighter positions are government positions, firefighters often qualify for the same benefits as other government employees. Eighty-nine per cent of state and local government employees have access to retirement benefits while 87 per cent have access to medical care benefits.
In additional to traditional benefits such as health and retirement, firefighters may qualify for special benefits under the provision of state laws. For instance, in Colorado the children of deceased firefighters may receive a benefit covering tuition and on-campus room and board at state colleges or universities. A state-by-state breakdown of these benefits is available from the National Fallen Firefighters Foundation website at: http://www.firehero.org/resources/benefits/.>
Firefighters may be eligible to qualify for purchasing supplemental health and welfare coverage that is provided exclusively to firefighters. For instance, in California, the California Professional Firefighters Health Benefits Trust offers California firefighters the opportunity to purchase insurance products such as long term disability and home and auto insurance.
Even though they are not full-time occupational firefighters, volunteer firefighters are often allowed to qualify for certain benefits such as participation in the firefighters' state retirement programs. As of 2009, the National Volunteer Firefighter Council published a state-by-state listing of these benefits at the following web page: http://www.nvfc.org/page/656/State_Benefits_Guide.htm.>
Many firefighters seek the expansion of benefit allowances through the union negotiations process. One of the largest of these organisations is The International Association of Fire Fighters, a subsidiary of the AFL-CIO.
After years of aggressive negotiations by firefighter unions the ever-increasing firefighter benefits allowances have started presenting a financial challenge to certain government entities. In economic downturns these government entities may seek to either freeze or reduce these benefits.
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