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Disaster and Accident

Law Expands Volunteer Firefighter Base

The Thomas Tribune of Thomas, Oklahoma

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Volunteer fire departments around the state will be able to recruit new volunteer firefighters over the age of 45 as a new law took effect Nov. 1.

House Bill 2005, by state Rep. Mike Sanders, eliminates an age limit that was put in place to address a pension dilemma. In order for the pension system to work, new enrollees must be under a certain age. His legislation gives potential volunteers the option to join without a pension if they are above that age.

"There were men and women who would like to serve, even if it had to be without a pension. So, this law just opens that door to them. The men and women I talked to said that they already had pensions, that they were looking to serve and didn't need to be part of the pension system," said Sanders, R-Kingfisher.

State Sen. AJ Griffin, who carried the bill in the Senate, said rural communities rely on volunteer firefighters.

Sanders said he hopes the new law will help address a nationwide and statewide decrease in the number of volunteer firefighters. Nearly 90 percent of the fire service in Oklahoma is all volunteer.

"This is one more tool in the toolbox to help our volunteer fire departments," Sanders said. "I am grateful for the support of the governor and my legislative colleagues."



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Original Publication Date: November 5, 2015



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