January 10, 2014

Manchin Applauds Treasury Decision to Exempt Volunteer Firefighters from Unintended Healthcare Mandate

Senator Manchin introduced legislation last month to protect volunteer fire departments from the employer mandate under the Affordable Care Act

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.) today issued the following statement applauding the Treasury’s decision to fully exempt volunteer firefighters and volunteer medical emergency personnel from being counted as full-time equivalent employees (FTEs) under the employer shared responsibility provisions of the “Affordable Care Act.” The new rule clarifies that volunteer fire departments will not be subject to the employer healthcare mandate. This requirement would have imposed unreasonable burdens on many volunteer emergency response agencies, jeopardized funding for training and emergency response hours, and punished hard-working volunteers across the country.

On December 12, 2013, Senator Manchin and a bipartisan group of senators introduced the “Protect Volunteer Firefighters and Emergency Responders Act” to ensure volunteer firefighters and emergency responders are not deemed full-time equivalent employees under the “Affordable Care Act.” 

“I am pleased that the Administration listened to the concerns of fire departments across the country and clarified provisions in the tax code that make sure our volunteer fire departments and emergency response agencies will not be punished by a technical error in the health care law. Now that there is a clear distinction between full-time, paid emergency responders and volunteers, our emergency response teams can keep our communities safe without the threat of reducing necessary funding for training or emergency response hours.”


Approximately 750,000 volunteer firefighters serve in 20,000 all-volunteer and 5,000 combination career-volunteer fire departments throughout the United States.

Many volunteer first responders are nominally compensated, and most volunteer first responders have other paid, full-time employment. Many emergency response agencies do not have the resources to provide pay or benefits to volunteers, nor do most volunteer first responders expect to receive compensation or health coverage as a result of their volunteer public service.