If you are reading this post, you likely know that NYS Law requires that the list of firefighters that earned 50 points during the prior calendar year must be posted for 30 days for review by the membership. Anyone whose name does not appear on the list as having earned 50 points can appeal within the 30-day period.
But if the firehouse is closed due to COVID-19, how can a volunteer review the list? Should special accommodations be made in this scenario?
The municipality and fire department are still bound by the requirements of the law and any applicable rules and regulations. Unless the Governor issues an Executive Order, or the law is changed, the answers should still have some legal basis. As such, it is important that this question also be brought to your local attorney.
This situation is not unique to the current times. With some firefighters spending the winter months in warmer climates, some firefighters are not around during the 30-day posting period. Or, it is just possible that someone neglects to review the list and therefore does not formally appeal their point total during the 30-day period.
At the end of the day, most municipal sponsors would not want to deny a benefit to someone who actually earned it. So if an appeal is made after the 30-day window closes, most sponsors would still investigate and make the correction, if necessary. That is, if the appeal come in a “reasonable” time. We could debate what amount of time is reasonable, but it would seem before the end of the following year is reasonable – meaning if someone appealed the 2019 service by the end of 2020. But an appeal in 2020 about service earned in 2010 may not be reasonable and could be rightfully denied by the municipality.
So what to do now during the current COVID-19 pandemic? Certainly, the list must still be posted. The best practice might be to have the “official” 30-day posting period start sometime after we are clear of the current restrictions and the Fire Department is back to more typical operating procedures.
At Firefly, we would normally want to know that the listing had been posted for 30 days and any appeals investigated before we did our work. This way we don’t get into a situation where we might have to re-do work as a result of a change. But this is clearly not normal times! So we would just work through any changes that come down the road. We wouldn’t want to hold up preparing the information needed for the municipal financial statements or processing the additional benefits due to post-entitlement age participants longer than necessary, especially since those who earned over 50 points don’t need to appeal anything.
So to be safe and give everyone an ample opportunity to review their points, we suggest having a final 30-day posting period sometime after we are back to “normal”.
If you have a different thought or opinion, let us know!