Stipend

New York State Volunteer Firefighter Stipend Program

New York State Volunteer Firefighter Stipend Program

The Program

Effective August 31, 2023, General Municipal Law § 200-aa authorizes training stipends for volunteer firefighters to increase recruitment and retention of the volunteer fire service. The regulation, Addition of Part 215 to Title 9 NYCRR, can be found on the New York State Register (starting on page 4).

 

State Fire Training Stipend

The Office of Fire Prevention and Control (OFPC) is authorized to administer a State-fund Fire Training Stipend to volunteer firefighters for completion of certain firefighter training courses (listed below) on or after August 31, 2023. Eligible courses, amounts, and program requirements are identified herein and will be codified in regulations, which will be forthcoming and published here.  

 

Local Fire Training Stipend 

GML 200-aa authorizes fire companies to administer a local fire training stipend program, subject to authorization by the governing board of city, town, village, or fire district (Authority Having Jurisdiction).  Regulations necessary to implement this program will be forthcoming and published here.   

State Fire Training Stipend

First time completions of the following courses or course equivalency as determined by OFPC will be eligible for a State Fire Training stipend for course completions on or after August 31, 2023:

  • 2021 BASIC EXTERIOR FIREFIGHTING OPERATIONS W/HMFRO (01-05-0101) 
  • 2021 SCBA/INTERIOR FIREFIGHTING OPERATIONS-FF1 (01-05-0102)
  • 2021 BEFO W/HMFRO (BLENDED LEARNING) (01-05-0103)
  • 2021 BEFO-SCBA/IFO-FF1 (BLENDED LEARNING) (01-05-0104)
  • FIRE OFFICER I (NFPA 1021-2020 ED.) w/FSTFAC (01-11-0176)
  • FIRE OFFICER I – SUPERVISING FIRE OFFICER MODULE SERIES (01-11-0154) 

 

The stipend amount that will be paid to the Volunteer Firefighter by OFPC is:

$750.00 – 

o 2021 BASIC EXTERIOR FIREFIGHTING OPERATIONS W/HMFRO (01-05-0101) or

o 2021 BEFO W/HMFRO (BLENDED LEARNING) (01-05-0103)

 

$1250.00 – 

o 2021 SCBA/INTERIOR FIREFIGHTING OPERATIONS-FF1 (01-05-0102)  

 

$1000.00 – 

o FIRE OFFICER I (NFPA 1021-2020 ED.) w/FSTFAC (01-11-0176) or

o FIRE OFFICER I – SUPERVISING FIRE OFFICER MODULE SERIES (01-11-0154)

 

$2000.00 –

o 2021 BEFO-SCBA/IFO-FF1 (BLENDED LEARNING) (01-05-0104)

Stipend Conditions and Requirements:

1. State Fire Training Stipends are limited to a first-time completion of a qualifying course. 

  • Repeating a course or subsequently taking an equivalent course does not qualify for a State Fire Training Stipend. 

2. The qualifying course must have been completed on or after August 31, 2023. 

3. Any Volunteer Firefighter that receives a Local Fire Training Stipend cannot receive a State Fire Training Stipend for the same or equivalent course.  

4. Stipends will be disbursed on a first come, first serve basis, as determined by OFPC. 

5. All course equivalents must be reviewed and approved through OFPC’s equivalency process prior to submission of a stipend application and be entered as a completion on the students training record.

6. Submitting an application does not create a right or entitlement to the receipt of a Training Stipend. 

7. Awards of State Fire Training Stipends are subject to the availability of allocated funds.

Requirements of the Fire Department to be eligible for the NY State Fire Stipend Program:

  1. Fire Departments must have submitted their annual fire reports to OFPC in the previous calendar year
  2. Fire Chiefs/Chief Officer must submit an Annual FD Demographics Form including Fire Chief or Chief Officer contact information and number of active firefighters (Submit completed forms to [email protected])
  3. Once the regulation is completed, fire departments will be required to provide OFPC with an annual reporting of their internal stipend program to include name of student, course name, completion date and amount of stipend dispensed to the member.

How to submit for the stipend:

1. Applications must be submitted using the OFPC Stipend Endorsement form

2. Applications must include, but are not limited to, the following components:

a. signed statement from the Fire Chief/Chief Officer of the Fire Department indicating that:

  • i. the Volunteer Firefighter is an active firefighter and Member in Good Standing (as determined by the Authority Having Jurisdiction);
  • ii. the Volunteer Firefighter was authorized by the Fire Department to take the course; and
  • iii. the Volunteer Firefighter successfully completed the course 

b. a Substitute W-9 form, if not already submitted (by the  student) during course registration.

3. Application paperwork must be submitted through email to [email protected].

4. Substitute W-9 form can be submitted during registration of the pre-determined courses listed above

5. In the event a Fire Department has not submitted an application for a State Training Stipend to OFPC within one year of completion of qualifying course and any local requirements, the Authority Having Jurisdiction may submit an application and signed statement on behalf of a Volunteer Firefighter in compliance with the eligibility and process requirements. 

6. Upon receipt and verification of a completed application, OFPC will process the stipend payment directly to the Volunteer Firefighter, subject to the requirements of this part and the availability of funds.

Frequently Asked Questions:

1. What forms must the student and fire chief submit to get the student’s stipend? 

a. Student must complete a Substitute W-9 form

b. Fire chief/company must complete and submit the Annual fire reporting from the previous year,

c. Fire chief/Chief officer must complete the Annual Fire Department Demographics form 

d. Fire chief/Chief officer must submit the OFPC Stipend Endorsement form.

 

2. Where should Fire Chiefs and students send forms, documentation and inquires in reference to the NYS Stipend Program?

a. All forms and questions should be directed to [email protected]

 

3. Do I have to complete a Substitute W-9 form for each course qualifying for a stipend?

a. No, only one W-9 form is required unless students’ demographics changes, such as home address, etc.

 

4. What are the five courses make up the module series to obtain credit for FIRE OFFICER I - SUPERVISING FIRE OFFICER MODULE SERIES (01-11-0154) ?

  • NYS OFFICER DEVELOPMENT-COMPANY TRAINING AND COMMUNITY RISK REDUCTION (01-11-0150)
  • NYS OFFICER DEVELOPMENT-FIREFIGHTER HEALTH AND SAFETY COURSE (01-11-0151)
  • NYS OFFICER DEVELOPMENT- LEADERSHIP AND SUPERVISION COURSE (01-11-0152)
  • NYS OFFICER DEVELOPMENT-PLANNING AND EMERGENCY RESPONSE COURSE (01-11-0153)
  • FIREGROUND STRATEGIES AND TACTICS FOR FIRST ARRIVING COMPANIES (01-11-0143)

 

5. Why are course completions before August 31, 2023 not eligible?

The new Volunteer Recruitment and Retention Stipend Program (General Municipal Law Section 200-aa) is effective August 31, 2023.  The authority and corresponding state funding is effective as of August 31.  

 

6. Is the training stipend taxable?

Yes, students receiving the State funded stipend will receive a 1099-MISC form from New York State.  Payment provided by a State or political subdivision for the performance of services as a member of a qualified volunteer firefighter organization is excluded from federal gross income, subject to the dollar limitation for any taxable year not exceeding $50 multiplied by the number of months during such year that the taxpayer performs such services. (max $600/yr). (IRS code section Internal Revenue Code § 139B). 

Employers do not need to report payments made to volunteer firefighters of $50/month or less on their W-9 or 1099-MISC because such payments would be excluded from income under Internal Revenue Code § 139B.  However, if the payments or benefits exceed the $50/month limit, employers would need to report the amount in excess of $50/month on the W-2 or 1099-MISC as taxable income to the volunteer firefighter.

 

7. Is there a cap on how much a volunteer can receive?

Volunteer firefighters may be paid expenses, reasonable benefits, a nominal fee, or any combination including training stipends, without jeopardizing volunteer status as long as they follow the "20 Percent Rule." In a 2006 opinion letter, FLSA2006-28, the USDOL explained that generally an amount that does not exceed 20% of the total compensation that the employer would pay to a full‐time firefighter for performing comparable services is considered nominal.  The 20 Percent Rule can be applied based on an evaluation of market information, including compensation paid to a full‐time firefighter on payroll and information from other local jurisdictions, the state, or the United States, including USDOL labor statistics.

The Department of Labor Occupational Wages Website : Occupational Wages webpage

Under Occupation Lookup:

Select your Labor Market Region in the State.

Occupational Group: Protective Services Occupations

Occupation: Firefighter

 

8. What is a nominal fee?

The FLSA and federal regulations do not define a “nominal fee.”  An economic realities test applies to determine when a person loses their volunteer status. See 29 C.F.R. § 553.106(f). Factors to determine if a stipend is nominal, include without limitation: (1) the distance traveled and the time or effort required of the volunteer; (2) the availability, of the volunteer to provide services (i.e., around the clock or certain time periods); and (3) the basis on which a volunteer agrees to perform services (i.e, as needed or throughout the year). See 29 C.F.R. § 553.106(e). These factors focus on whether the fee is akin to payment for services. To the extent that payments are tied to productivity (e.g., payment of hourly wages for services rendered), are similar to “piece rates,” or are comparable to “production bonuses,” there is a greater likelihood that the stipend isn't nominal.