Board adopts resolution to provide per-call fee to volunteer firefighters

The Oakland Board of Mayor and Aldermen has unanimously adopted a resolution that establishes a nominal “per-call” fee to be paid to volunteer firefighters.
Board members took the action during their Nov. 20 regular monthly meeting on a motion offered by Alderman Karl Chambless and seconded by Alderman John Troncone.
The resolution describes compensation for volunteer firefighters as “a complex issue” that is subject to the U.S. Fair Labor Standards Act, Internal Revenue Service, subsequent court rulings and federal agency opinions, as well as Oakland’s ordinances and personnel policies.
Title 29, Part 553 of the Code of Federal Regulations defines a volunteer as an individual who performs hours of service for a public agency for “civic, charitable or humanitarian” reasons without “promise, expectation or receipt” of compensation for services rendered.
But it also states that volunteers can be paid “expenses, reasonable benefits, a nominal fee” or any combination of those for their service without losing their status as volunteers.
The Federal Labor Standards Act states that the nominal fee must not be a “substitute for compensation” or “tied to productivity.”
The regulations allow volunteer firefighters to be paid on a “per-call” or similar basis, if the fee is consistent with certain factors denoting the “sacrifice” of the volunteer.
Title 7, Chapter 1, Section 7-105 of the Oakland Municipal Code states that, “from time to time,” the board can prescribe a nominal fee to be paid to volunteer firefighters.
Oakland’s Employee Personnel Rules and Regulations Handbook states that volunteer firefighters are to be compensated “per fire call,” with no benefits other than the town’s insurance under the Tennessee Municipal League for liability, property and Workers’ Compensation policies.
The board’s resolution states that, for the time period between Nov. 1, 2013 and Oct. 31, 2014, volunteer firefighters will receive $15 per call if they are “on scene” and $5 per call if they are “on standby” at the fire station.
To receive the nominal fees for the stated time period, all volunteer firefighters must be active as of the date of disbursement.
All documentation must be on file with the town recorder/chief financial officer substantiating these calls to:
(1) ensure accountability and fiscal responsibility;
(2) comply with the Internal Control and Compliance Manual for Tennessee Municipalities for separation of duties;
(3) ensure compliance and accountability in financial audits; and
(4) comply with the Fair Labor Standards Act requirements.
Nominal fee disbursements to volunteer firefighters will be substantiated by “incident rosters” signed and certified to accuracy of “on scene and standby at the fire station” by commanding officers or the fire chief.
Personnel files must be complete and on file with the town recorder/chief financial officer.
Changes or revisions to the procedures established in the resolution will be made only by approval of the board.