It is the time of the year where fire departments across New York State are finalizing the listing of points earned by their volunteer firefighters during calendar year 2018. I thought I'd spend the next several posts working through the process as stipulated in the General Municipal Law, as well as provide some other insights and good practices.
Note that I did say calendar year. In my career working with LOSAP, I have run across a couple instances where points were being kept on a non-calendar year. In New York State, the points must be tracked on a calendar year.
But ultimately, who is responsible for tracking the activities of the firefighters, and the resulting points? According the General Municipal Law §219-a(2)(b), the fire company has that responsibility:
It shall be the responsibility of each participating volunteer fire company to maintain all required records on forms prescribed by the governing board of such political subdivision of the state
Keep in mind that the terms "fire company" and "fire department" tend to be used interchangeably, so don't get bogged down in the technical difference.
Ultimately, it is the volunteer organization (company or department) that is responsible to maintain the records. That doesn't mean that the fire company cannot hire a third party to enter the activities into the software - that happens frequently. Or, it is very common for a fire district to task a district employee with the responsibility of entering the activities into the software. Even in these cases, the fire company is still ultimately responsible for the accuracy of the sign-in sheets and other attendance records, and there should be some review process in place to ensure the accuracy of the entry of the records into the software. Certainly, newer technology like finger-print readers and key-fobs improve accuracy since they eliminate most of the manual data entry.
Note also that the governing board of the political subdivision also has responsibility in dictating how activities will be tracked. Often (maybe always) the political subdivision allows the fire company the leeway to make these policy decisions, but ultimately the municipality is the one who has the authority to set those policies.