Volunteer Firefighters now protected

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Jun 10, 2006
Broomfield/Aurora, CO
DENVER - Volunteer firefighters in Colorado can now leave work for an emergency and not fear for their jobs.

Gov. Bill Ritter (D-Colorado) signed Senate Bill 116 into law on Tuesday to protect the jobs of those who protect Colorado.

"This is just another tool that's going to help us save lives and property across our state," said Darin Anstine, who is the Fire Chief in Fountain, outside of Colorado Springs. "To be able to get firefighters faster to our scenes and make sure our volunteer firefighters don't have to worry about their jobs."

Numerous members of Anstine's largely volunteer fire department testified in public hearings, sharing their stories of employers who threatened their jobs if they left for an emergency. The sentiment was shared by other volunteer firefighters from around the state.

Colorado law had already protected the jobs of volunteer firefighters if they couldn't make it into work because of an emergency, but they had no protection if they already were at work and received the emergency call. There are 5,500 volunteer firefighters in the state who protect approximately 660,000 Coloradans.

"Volunteer firefighters respond to an average of two structure fires every day," said Ritter. "As summer fire season approaches, we certainly want our volunteer firefighters to be able to protect the public and their regular jobs at the same time."

The Colorado State Fire Chiefs Association says 62 percent of all of Colorado's fire departments are entirely dependent on volunteers. An additional 26 percent are so-called combination departments with some career firefighters supplemented by volunteers.

Click here for more information on Senate Bill 116.
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