A question came in today about points for serving as a convention delegate. Here is the applicable section of § 217:
There are several things to note about sub-section (B):
1) The active volunteer firefighter must be elected. The statute doesn't state how that election takes place, but presumably the membership of the company would elect the firefighter as the delegate. Whatever the procedure, the stipulation that the volunteer must be elected eliminates the availability of a point being awarded to a firefighter for attending a convention on his/her own.
2) What is a firefighters' convention? That term is not defined anywhere else in Article 11-A. The Volunteer Firefighters' Benefits Law provides the following definition:
Given that any activity covered by VFBL is a point-eligible activity, it would seem reasonable to use this as a possible expanded definition. With that in mind, it could clarify a convention to include a conference of firefighters, or fire officers or fire district officers. Using this definition, the NYS Association of Fire Chiefs conference and the annual FASNY conference would likely be eligible conferences. It would also seem reasonable to include conferences of regional organizations like the Hudson Valley Volunteer Fireman's Association Conference. The two (currently) annual New York State Association of Fire District conferences/meetings might possibly be included, but since those are meetings of fire district officials (commissioners, secretaries and treasurers), which are not representatives of the fire company, some caution should be taken (i.e., check with your attorney) before including these.
What is more difficult to determine is if more regional or local "meetings" would be eligible - such as battalion meetings, regional AFDSNY meetings/functions, or other regional meetings of volunteer firefighters. Our suggestion is that the sponsor define what conventions will be eligible to a point under this category.
3) What is a meeting? Is meeting a synonym for convention, so one point per convention? Or if someone attends multiple meetings during the one convention, does that mean multiple points? It would appear reasonable to give one point per meeting if the convention contains various training classes or other similar activities, but it would also seem reasonable to limit it to one point per convention. Remember, one of the goals of the point system is to encourage and reward specific activities, so how points are awarded for attending "meetings" at the convention could influence the behavior of the volunteer. Again, we suggest making that determination in advance when writing the point system document.
As a general rule, we believe it is important that the individual be required to give a report at the next fire company/department meeting before a point is awarded. As an elected delegate, it would seem there is a responsibility for the individual to return and give a report to the fire company/department that he/she was elected to represent.
As usual, we suggest you run this by your local attorney before finalizing any decision regarding this provision of the statute.
Sharing my thoughts and insights on LOSAP, and occasionally other topics.