SCS/SB 666 - This act creates the "Volunteer Firefighter Job Protection Act".
The act bars public and private employers from firing an employee for joining any fire department, as a volunteer, or for missing work for responding to an emergency as a volunteer firefighter. Employers may, however, deduct hours missed by the employee from the employee's regular compensation. Employees must make a reasonable effort to notify their employers before they miss work and the employer may request the employee to provide the employer with a written statement from the supervisor of the volunteer fire department stating that the employee responded to an emergency and the time and date of such emergency.
Any employee who is fired in violation of this act has a cause of action for a civil suit against the employer in violation of the act. The employee may seek reinstatement to the employee's previous position, reinstatement of fringe benefits, back wages, and reinstatement of seniority rights. If the employee prevails in the action the employee shall be entitled to reasonable attorney’s fees and costs of the action. The employee must bring an action within one year of the violation.
The act defines a "fire department" as an agency or organization that provides fire suppression activities. The term fire department shall include any municipal fire department, fire protection district, or voluntary fire protection association engaging in this type of activity. This amendment also requires "volunteer fire protection associations" to provide fire suppression and related activities.
All fire protection districts, volunteer fire protection associations, and fire department must complete and file a fire department registration form with the State Fire Marshal with 60 days after January 1, 2007, and annually thereafter. The state fire marshal may issue an identification number to each registered entity and conduct periodic reviews of the information provided on the registration forms.
This act requires volunteer fire protection associations to identify their boundaries and file them with the county, rather than allowing them to do so. Any volunteer fire protection association is prohibited from encroaching upon or including any portion of another fire department's legally established boundaries.