Clarification of Sex Offender Law

VFIS offers a free checklist assessing your Vol. R&R Program

May 1st, 2023

FREE CHECKLIST: Assessing your volunteer retention and recruitment programs

Volunteer retention and recruitment should be considered ongoing and separate processes in your ESO. And while you may need additional personnel—your current roster should be your primary focus as it’s less expensive to develop and retain existing personnel than to recruit and train new volunteers.

Answer “yes” or “no” to the following questions and tally up how many “yeses” your organization receives. Be honest—and if there’s any doubt in your mind, it is suggested to answer “no”.

  1. Does your ESO conduct exit interviews with any individual leaving your organization?
  2. Does your ESO conduct periodic evaluations, at least annually, on a continual basis?
  3. Does your ESO have a job description for every position within the organization?
  4. Does your ESO have a clear organization structure for both operations and administrative personnel?
  5. Does your ESO have a written personnel manual updated within the last 3 years?
  6. Does your ESO have both paper and electronic applications available for prospective volunteers?
  7. Does your ESO assist individuals that need assistance when completing the application?
  8. Does your ESO use multiple communication methods to reach current and prospective members?
  9. Does your ESO charge a fee for prospective members to join the organization?
  10. Does a prospective member have to wait between the time of a completed application until the VFD “votes in” the applicant?
  11. Does your ESO advertise “Volunteers Needed”?
  12. Does your ESO have a volunteer awards or incentive program?
  13. Is your ESO able to handle the onboarding process for (5) new volunteers at one time?
  14. Can your ESO afford to outfit and train 5 new volunteers at one time?
  15. Does your ESO have 5 different mentors available that are willing to be assigned 5 new volunteers?
  16. Does your ESO know the cost to outfit and train each new volunteer for their respective position?
  17. Do you know the attrition rate of volunteers in your ESO?
  18. Do you know the retention rate of volunteers in your ESO?
  19. Does your ESO match times of training sessions to times when the volunteers are available?
  20. Does a chief officer dedicate time to meet with each volunteer periodically, at least once per year?
  21. Do you provide a copy of your ESO bylaws to each new volunteer member?
  22. Do you provide a copy of department SOPs/SOGs to each new volunteer member?
  23. Does your ESO have a quantifiable method to determine how a volunteer completes probationary status?
  24. Does your ESO have a quantifiable method to determine how a member is defined as “active” during a given timeframe?
  25. Does your ESO have dedicated office hours at your station announced to the public and displayed at each main entrance?


VFBL Coverage for 16 & 17 Year Old Vol. Firefighters

May 1st, 2023

VFBL Coverage for 16 & 17 Year Old Volunteer Firefighters from Fire Districts Mutual Insurance

As the fire service prioritizes recruitment efforts, many fire districts look to a new, younger generation of members and future leadership development. It is an important tradition and process to ensure that the fire service will continue to evolve and meet the needs of our communities. As the recruitment of young volunteer firefighters develops, we must understand and prepare for the coming challenges. Our friends at FASNY have published a great article and overview on the issues to consider when recruiting younger members (minors) as volunteer firefighters, which you can read by visiting firefighters-what-your-department-should-know.

The purpose of this communication from Fire Districts of New York Mutual Insurance Co. Inc. is to clarify how to ensure your 16- and 17-year-old volunteer firefighters are covered under VFBL. First, for an individual in the fire service to be covered, they must be categorized as an “Active Member.” Other sub-categories such as Full Members, Probationary Members, Cadets, and Junior Members must be defined as “Activ e Members” and written into the fire district’s bylaws. They may also have restrictive duties. The fire district bylaws should clearly define and explain their status to have coverage under VFBL.

If 16- and 17-year-olds are NOT defined as “Active Members” in the fire district’s bylaws, then they are NOT covered under the VFBL. The NYS Attorney General states that child labor laws apply to all minors (under age 18). However, labor law does not exclude a person aged 16 or 17 from being an “Active Member” of their fire district.

It is also essential that you understand the definition and use of the word “Youth.” Across NYS, there are fire districts that successfully maintain well-managed Youth programs. These are considered “Non-Active Duty” volunteer members. These programs are provided for under General Municipal Law section 204-b. They include Explorer scouts and others. These “Youths” must not be permitted to participate in emergencies or any hazardous activities. “Youths” are NOT covered by the VFBL. The fire district must be familiar with federal and NYS child labor Laws for compliance. The fire district should check its other insurance policies for any coverage exclusions for “Youths.” There may be some medical coverage for “Youths” if the fire district has purchased an Accident policy like many Youth sports teams.

These words and definitions matter in NYS and the Workers’ Compensation Board for VFBL coverage to apply. Check your fire district’s bylaws for granting appropriate “Active Member” status to your 16- and 17-year-old volunteer firefighters as described above. Remember, in NYS, any individual NOT categorized as an “Active Member” volunteer firefighter does NOT have coverage under VFBL.

Fire Districts of New York Mutual Insurance Co. Inc. serves to protect those who protect us! Together with our network of insurance broker partners, we are available to help answer your questions and concerns. Feel free to contact us and thank you for your business and support.

VFIS Training Opportunities – A Wealth of Information

November 6th, 2022

Updated By-Laws Approved by the Board of Directors

June 10th, 2022

The Capital Area By-Laws have been updated and adopted by the Board of Directors at the June, 2022 meeting.

Highlights include; A new Associate Membership class which will welcome not only individuals but other county or regional associations, a redefined purpose, revised voting rights and a revised dues structure.  The new By-Laws are here: AFDCA By Laws rev 0622


Powers and Duties of a Fire Commissioner

March 9th, 2022

[NOTE: In many instances the cited section may not be printed in its entirety and to gain complete understanding of the permissions and limitations the entire section of the law needs to be read and understood.  In addition, this may not be an all-inclusive list of the powers and duties of Fire District Commissioners but is a comprehensive representative example of their responsibilities.    There are many more applicable laws and sections of State law that mention the Board of Fire Commissioners and their rights and responsibilities, but applicability is secondary and cannot be completely discounted. When questions arise exhaustive research should be performed and professional legal counsel should be sought.]  Note, this is a 12 page document.

Powers-and-duties-of-a-Fire-Commissioner (1)

Outline for the Fire District Annual Organizational Meeting

December 11th, 2021

Attached is an outline of all the items to be considered during the Annual Fire District Organizational Meeting to be held the first 15 days in January.


Guidance to Form County or Regional Fire District Organization

November 10th, 2019

This resource document has been created to provide information or guidance to groups of fire district officers who may want to assemble a local organization.
Formation of a Regional Associations

Final Cancer Benefit Regulations from OFPC, Forms from OFPC

January 6th, 2019
Cancer Benefit Program Final Regulations from OFPC
101718 OFPC FINAL REG 2018 NY REG TEXT 495278

EOSB 210.4 Form to be filed with the Cancer Insurance Benefit Provider only when filing a claim- 
Keep a copy for your files

The annual filing form to OFPC from the AHJ to attest under oath that you have provided the Cancer Benefit

Regional Breakdown for State Association Regions

January 6th, 2019
Region 1 = The Capital Region
Region 2 = Mid Hudson Valley
Region 3 = Central Region
Region 4 = Southern Tier
Region 5 = Finger Lakes Rochester Region
Region 6 = Western NY
Region 7 = Lower Hudson Valley
Region 8 = Nassau County
Region 9 = Suffolk County
Region 10 = Sullivan/Orange/Rockland
Region 11 = North Country

Regional Breakdown


Guide to Forming or Becoming a Fire District

April 8th, 2018

Becoming or Consolidating a Fire District 20180210

This is updated edition of an earlier resource document.  Updated on February 10th, 2018.


Accounting Manual for Fire Districts

August 3rd, 2015

The Office of the State Comptroller publication for fire districts is available for download and printing here:


Volunteer Firefighter License Plate Revocation

July 9th, 2014

Did you know that if you have a member of your fire company who drops out of the fire service that you can have thier fire department VF license plate rescinded? All it takes is a letter on Company Letterhead to the NYS Department of Motor Vehicles at NYSDMV, 6 Empire State Plaza, Albany, NY 12228. The former member will not be able to obtain a VF plate on the next registration cycle.