OVFA 2009 CONFERENCE
JUNE 24 - 27, 2009
WHITE CITY, OR
Please view our Training / Events page for current EMS conferences and classes and our Grants page for funding.
2009 Session Shaping Up
OVFA has begun positioning itself for the 2009 legislative session which will convene on January 12, 2009. OVFA is requesting the introduction of legislation on the following issues:
- A Tax Check-off to benefit volunteer firefighters;
- Tax Credits for volunteer emergency responders;
- Tax treatment of volunteer compensation
Proposals from Other Entities:
Cancer Presumption The Special Districts Association (SDAO), the primary insurance carrier for most fire districts, and the International Association of Fire Fighters (IAFF) have struck a compromise on the highly contentious issue of cancer presumption for firefighters. The issue is as follows: If a firefighter is diagnosed with cancer, should it be automatically presumed that the cause of cancer was due to firefighting activities?
SDAO points to research indicating that there is no conclusive evidence that cancer is more prevalent in firefighters than the general population; and, therefore, concludes there should be no presumption of causation. Labor, conversely, has held that due to the toxins inhaled by firefighters, there should most definitely be a presumption of risk.
In this most recent compromise, which was reached in mid-April, SDAO has softened its position to allow that some cancers may be related to firefighting activities. However, due to anticipated insurance rate increases, which were have been estimated at as much as 350 percent, SDAO is not prepared to write coverage for all firefighters at this time. The current agreement is limited only to paid firefighters. Other components of the agreement include:
● Cancer presumption legislation will apply to covered cancers first diagnosed
after July 1, 2009; (Note: While political reality dictates that volunteers will not be included in 2009, it is OVFA's intent to seek volunteer inclusion at a later date.)
● Cancer presumption legislation’s burden of proof standard of evidence will
stipulate that the cancer presumption is not compensable if the employer can
prove that the cancer was not caused or contributed in material part by the
firefighter’s work as a firefighter;
● Cancer presumption legislation will apply for 7 years following termination of
● Cancer presumption legislation will apply to 12 cancers;
● Cancer presumption legislation will be rebuttable if the employer can show
that tobacco use was the major contributing cause of the cancer;
● Cancer presumption legislation will apply to prostate cancer if the cancer is
first diagnosed on or before the firefighter’s 55th birthday.
While political reality dictates that volunteers will not be included in 2009, it is OVFA’s intent to seek volunteer inclusion at a later date. In the mean time, the current workers compensation program remains in place: any volunteer firefighter may still file a claim against workers comp for cancer. The proposed legislation will not impact those claims as it is limited only to the burden of proof.
For now, the OVFA Board is assessing how this decision may be used to their advantage this coming legislative session. Because OVFA has other legislative proposals in the works, perhaps the fact that volunteers are not included in the cancer legislation at this time may work to further the association’s other agenda items.
Concepts from Office of State Fire Marshal The Office of the State Fire Marshal is working on several proposals for the 2009 legislative session, including the following DRAFT concepts:
- Funding governor-declared conflagrations and mobilizations. This concept amends ORS 476.610 to establish a #3 million Special Purpose Appropriation (SPA), independent of the Office of State Fire Marshal budget, for coverage of mobilization expenses under the Conflagration Act.
- Funding Fire Programs (amending FIPT language) The concept ensures emergency preparedness and adequate support for direct services provided by State Fire Marshal fire programs, State Police Arson Unit and Firefighter training and accreditation at the Department of Public Safety Standards and Training by amending ORS 731.821 to clarify use of Fire Insurance Premium Tax (FIPT).
- Liquefied petroleum gas program fee increase (fiscal sustainability issue) This concept eliminates overlapping regulation of the explosives industry between the state and federal governments by allowing compliance with federal explosives regulations to satisfy state requirements.
- Cardlock Program (fiscal sustainability issue) This concept changes the statute to increase funding to avoid an imminent funding shortfall in the 09-11 biennium, and clarifies statutory language by removing duplicative and outdated verbiage.
- Removes assistant to the State Fire Marshal reference from SB 571 (State Fire Marshal authority/responsibility misplaced) This concept eliminates the misplaced authority in the reference to the State Fire Marshal from this bill, ORS 433.835 to 433.875 and any Oregon Administrative Rules (OARs).
- Prohibits the sale and distribution of novelty (toylike) lighters The concept prevents youth set fires by prohibiting the retail sale and distribution of novelty (toylike) lighters in Oregon and impose civil penalties on noncompliant retailers.
- Amends state explosives states (streamlining and compatibility with federal laws) Eliminates overlapping regulation of the explosives industry between the state and federal governments by allowing compliance with federal explosives regulations to satisfy state requirements.