A question came in regarding a volunteer member of a fire department teaching a training class, and if points can be awarded to that member for teaching the class rather than attending the class.

This is not an easy one with a black-and-white answer. It mostly comes down to interpretation and determining what is in the spirit of the statute. So in these cases, it is especially important to review a question like this with your attorney.

This particular fire department has a training program that it developed internally that lasts about 40 hours and is taught over 15 to 20 sessions. The course is often taught by multiple instructors. The question is, can the members who are teaching the class receive points under the training courses category like the firefighters who were taking the training course?

The statute reads as follows:

(i) Training courses — twenty-five points maximum.
   (A) Courses under twenty hours duration — one point per hour, with a maximum of five points.
   (B) Courses of twenty to forty-five hours duration — one point per hour for each hour over initial twenty hours, with a maximum of ten points.
   (C) Courses over forty-five hours to one hundred hours duration — fifteen points per course.
   (D) Courses over one hundred hours duration — twenty-five points per course.

The statute doesn’t clarify that the volunteer has to “attend” or “take” or even “participate” in the training class. There are two Legal Opinions from the Office of the State Comptroller about training, and both opinions address members attending training courses, not teaching them.

It is often helpful to look at similar sections of statute in order to try and understand how a State auditor, or a State attorney, may interpret the statute. With that in mind, here is a definition of a training course from the ambulance squad law (both Article 11-AA and Article 11-AAA):

For purposes of this paragraph, the term “training course” shall mean a course of instruction having a prescribed topic and syllabus. Points for a training course shall be awarded only upon the successful completion of the course and only in the year in which the course is successfully completed.

This section of statute uses the terminology “completion of the course” which would seem to imply it was taken (not taught), but it doesn’t express that fact specifically.

With all this in view, it is my sense that instructors should not get points under the Training Courses category for training that they are teaching, not taking or attending. 

However, it would seem reasonable to reward them with points for this training. My suggestion is to give them a Miscellaneous point for each section of the training that is taught. Or, another option would be to create a Training Officer position, and give them officer points for holding that position. Either method would seem appropriate and acceptable.





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