LOSAP in New York State
Are you from a state other than New York, or are you an independent ambulance squad in New York State? Sorry, this part of the site is not designed for you. The laws, rules, and regulations governing LOSAP is very state-specific, and this page is focused on New York State volunteer fire department LOSAPs. However, we’d love to connect with you via email or phone. Please contact us if you are interested in discussing a LOSAP other than for a New York State volunteer fire department.
What does LOSAP stand for?
The acronym LOSAP stands for Length of Service Award Program. This acronym came to be in 1996 with the passage of the Small Business Job Protection Act of 1996 on August 20, 1996. This bill amended §457(e)(11) of the Internal Revenue Code with language that excluded “any plan paying solely length of service awards to bona fide volunteers…” This bill was necessary because up to that point, there were some complicated conflicts between the New York State law and the Internal Revenue Code. This bill relived those conflicts, and also helped birth the term LOSAP.
What is a LOSAP in general?
In general, it is a plan that provides payment to an individual who performs certain qualified services. Those qualified services are firefighting and fire prevention services, emergency medical services, and ambulance services. Most LOSAPs are designed like simple retirement plans, where the benefits become payable at a certain age, but a LOSAP could be designed to pay benefits after a certain length of time, regardless of age.
There are two types of LOSAP available in NY State:
Applicable NY State Laws
The parameters of LOSAP in New York are found in the General Municipal Law. There are four Articles in the General Municipal Law that address LOSAP:
Programs adopted in accordance with Article 11-AA and Article 11-AAA are run by the Office of the State Comptroller (OSC). The OSC then contracts with firms to provide the necessary services. Since Firefly is not one of those firms, those programs will not be addressed. However, just like our out-of-state friends, please contact us and we’ll direct you to someone who can help.
To our knowledge, there have been no programs adopted in accordance with Article 11-AAAA. We are trying to change that! Check back a later time for more details about how you can adopt a Supplemental LOSAP for your fire department.
Who can sponsor a LOSAP in NY State?
The sponsor is the agency that adopts and is responsible for the administration of the program. In New York, Article 11-A defines the “sponsor” or the “sponsoring agency” as a “political subdivision which has established or jointly established a service award program, a volunteer fire company or department, or any other entity responsible for fire protection.” This language is a bit confusing, since it could lead to the understanding that the fire company or fire department could sponsor a LOSAP. We believe that in the view of the entire statute, it is clear that only a political subdivision can sponsor a LOSAP in NY State. A political subdivision is defined in Article 11-A as being “a county, city, town, town on behalf of a fire protection district, village, village on behalf of fire service area or fire district.”
In summary, the following can sponsor a LOSAP in NY State:
Special Situation – there is a special situation here in NY where an independent fire company (a fire company not under the control of a fire district, village or city) may contract with more than one municipality. In this case, all of the municipalities that contract to receive fire protection services with that fire company must join together to co-sponsor the LOSAP.
What are the steps to sponsor a LOSAP?
The political subdivision must first adopt a resolution establishing a program, subject to additional approval of the voting residents of that political subdivision in a mandatory public referendum.
What volunteers are eligible to participate in the LOSAP?
All active volunteer firefighters are eligible to participate. Article 11-A defined an active volunteer firefighter as “a person who has been approved by the authorities in control of a duly organized volunteer fire company or volunteer fire department as an active volunteer firefighter of such fire company or department and who is faithfully and actually performing service in the protection of life and property from fire or other emergency, accident or calamity in connection with which the services of such fire company or fire department are required.”
In general, ladies auxiliary members, social-only members, or life-only members are not eligible to participate. Furthermore, a sponsor and fire department should consider carefully if “Class D” or “Administrative Only” members should be eligible to participate. Generally, only volunteers who have a duty to respond to calls/emergencies can participate in a LOSAP in New York State.
How does a volunteer earn a LOSAP benefit?
A volunteer must earn 50 points under the point system. Each sponsor must adopt a point system based on the parameters in Article 11-A. A sponsor cannot change the 50-point requirement, nor can a volunteer earn a larger benefit for earning more than 50 points. All a volunteer must do is earn 50 points during a calendar year.