Why volunteer fire departments are breathing a sigh of relief - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Why volunteer fire departments are breathing a sigh of relief

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Volunteer fire departments are off the hook when it comes to providing health insurance to firefighters. Volunteer fire departments are off the hook when it comes to providing health insurance to firefighters.

LELAND, NC (WECT) – Volunteer fire departments are off the hook when it comes to providing health insurance to firefighters.

It's a sigh of relief from potential federal rules from the Affordable Care Act that some said would have been financially devastating.

The A.C.A., also known as Obamacare, requires employers with 50 or more full-time workers to provide health insurance benefits, or face a tax penalty.

However, a January 10 blog post from the U.S. Department of Treasury, volunteer firefighters, emergency workers, and paramedics will be exempt. This means that taxes won't be going up and the number of firefighters in the area will stay the same.

The last time we spoke to Leland Fire Chief John Grimes, he was worried that more than half of his 100 volunteers would have to be let go, because under the proposed regulations, the fire department would not have been able to afford insurance for them.

Grimes said that volunteer firefighters in Leland served more than 25,000 hours of community service last year, alone. He's resting easier these days, knowing that he can stop worrying about finances and get back to work on fires.

"It allows us to keep being a training agency for future volunteers that want to get out in to paramedics, firefighting, and emergency services," said Grimes. "It allows us to continue to be a training field for on the job experience for them and our community benefits through lower taxes."

No word yet on when this ruling will become official. The I.R.S. has not released a statement at the time of this report.

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