New York State Law requires that after the municipal board approves the certified list of firefighters that have qualified for service credit during the previous year, the list must be returned to the fire company to be posted for at least 30 days for review by members. During the 30-day period, a firefighter who was denied service credit has the right to appeal to the municipality, not to the fire company. Here is the text of §217 of the GML:
(g) An active volunteer firefighter whose name does not appear on the approved certified list or who is denied credit for service prior to the establishment of the service award program shall have the right to appeal within thirty days of posting of the list or within thirty days of denial of past service credit. The appeal shall be in writing and mailed to the clerk or secretary of the governing board of such political subdivision, which shall investigate the appeal. The decision of the authorities in control of each volunteer fire company shall be subject to appropriate judicial review.
Note here that the appeal is to be made to the Town/Village/City Clerk or Fire District Secretary - not to the fire company! Then, the governing board is to investigate the appeal and eventually decide if the fire company records accurately reflect the activity of the volunteer.
In practice, these appeals are typically being handled by the fire company and not the municipality. Similar to the issue of when the 30-day posting period should happen (technically after the municipal board approves the certified list), it would seem that the most important things would be that the listing is correct, resulting in the volunteers being given the service credit and benefit they deserve, and that the municipality has a role in the process. Therefore, if the listing is corrected by appeal to the fire company during a posting period that occurs prior to the municipality approving the points (in other words, not in the correct order as outlined in the statue), ultimately the result is a correct listing.
Firefly recommends that all municipal sponsors and fire companies follow the letter of the statute whenever possible. This will avoid any possible criticism later on. There should also be an excellent document trail detailing when all the steps occurred in case there is a question at a later date. It is critical that the municipality maintains it proper role in the overall process of administering the program.
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