Prince Georges County Volunteer Fire/EMS Personnel
Length of Service Award Program
Prince George's County
Volunteer Fire and Rescue Personnel
The Prince George's County Code
Under CB 119-1991
This guide is based on the current legislation and includes anticipated changes from the County Council bill (CB-91-2000) amending CB 119-1991 to be presented by the County Executive and approved by the County Council for legislative session 2000.
Table of Contents
1 INTRODUCTION 1
2 STANDARDS & PROCEDURES 2
2.1 Benefits 2
2.2 Active Service Standards – Point Accumulation 3
3.6 FORM #4577 "VOLUNTEER COLLATERAL DUTY SHEET" 19
3.7 FORM #4579 "INSURANCE AND LOSAP BENEFICIARY” 19
3.8 FORM #4573 "BURIAL BENEFIT APPLICATION” 20
APPENDIX A LOSAP FORMS 21
APPENDIX B LOSAP COUNTY CODE 30
APPENDIX C CB-91-2000 & SUMMARY 35
GLOSSARY OF TERMS 41
ADDITIONAL MONTHLY PAYMENT 41
ANNUAL CERTIFICATION 41
BASIC MONTHLY BENEFIT 41
BURIAL BENEFIT 41
CERTIFIED ACTIVE SERVICE 41
COST OF LIVING 41
EFFECTIVE DATES & BILLS 41
QUALIFIED VOLUNTEER 42
SURVIVING SPOUSE BENEFIT 42
The Prince George's County, Maryland, (the County) County Council created the Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP). The LOSAP provides annuities to active members of the County's volunteer Fire/Emergency Medical Service (EMS) companies (volunteers) that meet certain age and service eligibility criterion. Benefits provided under the LOSAP also include survivor annuities and lump-sum death benefits.
The County and its residents rely heavily on volunteer support in providing fire and rescue services.
The Prince George's County Fire Commission (the Commission) has been given the authority to establish the standards and procedures surrounding the LOSAP under the County Code, Section 11-328.
This guide is designed to give each County volunteer Fire/EMS company the information to effectively and efficiently prepare the annual report to the Commission as well as accurately maintain company records.
Each benefit is cross-referenced to the actual citation in the County code. Terms used in this section are defined in the Glossary.
2.1.1 A qualified volunteer is eligible to receive a basic monthly payment of $225.00 per month upon reaching the age of 55 and completing 25 years of certified active service. Sec. 11-328 (c)(1)
220.127.116.11 Volunteers and spouses receiving benefits shall also receive the cost of living adjustment (COLA) awarded to the career fire service. The COLA adjusts the basic monthly payment as well as the additional payments discussed in the next two sections. Sec. 11-328 (h)(1)
18.104.22.168 For example, an individual whose monthly payment has been increased by the additional $4.00 per month and prior COLAs is currently receiving $250.00 per month. If a new COLA of 10% is now applied, the individual's monthly payment will be $275.00.
2.1.2 A payment of $4.00 per month will be added to the basic monthly payment for each full year of certified active service in excess of 25 years. Payments will begin on the first day of the month following eligibility. Sec. 11-328 (C) (02)
2.1.3 A volunteer who has reached the age of 70 and has a minimum of ten years of certified active service with five of those years immediately preceding the current year will receive a payment of $4.00 per month for each year of certified active service. Payments will begin on the first day following eligibility. Sec. 11-328 (c)(3)
2.1.4 Any volunteer who is found by the Maryland Worker's Compensation Commission to be permanently disabled in the course of employment as a Fire/EMS volunteer will receive disability benefits. A competent medical authority designated by the County Executive must find that the disability prevents the volunteer from pursuing his or her normal occupation. Disability benefits are the same as the benefits accruing to a qualified volunteer who has 25 years of certified active service and has attained the age of 55 years. Sec. 11-328 (c)(5)(A)(B)(C)
2.1.5 Upon the death of a qualified volunteer, a burial benefit of $5,000.00 shall be paid to the surviving spouse or if no surviving spouse, the estate of the decedent. The executor of the deceased's estate is responsible for applying for the burial benefit and supplying the Commission with a copy of the death certificate along with the completed Burial Benefit Application form (Appendix A, Form #4573). Sec. 11- 328 (c)(8)
2.1.6 If a qualified volunteer dies while receiving benefits, the surviving spouse specified on the Insurance and LOSAP Beneficiary form (Appendix A. Form #4579) is entitled to benefits equal to 50 percent of the volunteer's benefits. These benefits shall terminate upon death or remarriage of the spouse. Sec. 11- 328 (c)(7)(A)
2.1.7 If a qualified volunteer dies before receiving any benefits, the surviving spouse specified on the Insurance and LOSAP Beneficiary form (Appendix A, Form #4579) is entitled to benefits equal to 50 percent of the volunteer's benefits. These benefits shall terminate upon death or remarriage of the spouse. See. 11- 328 (c)(7)(B)
2.2 Active Service Standards - Point Accumulation
For the purpose of participating in the program, once a volunteer receives a Prince George's County Fire Department Identification Number, he or she begins to accumulate LOSAP points. A year of certified active service is defined as a year in which a volunteer has accumulated a minimum of 50 points in accordance with the point system discussed later in this section. Points will be credited for the period of July 1 through June 30 each year and shall not be transferable from one year to the next.
Since volunteers do not usually start their membership on the first day of the fiscal year, the following interpretation is provided for crediting the first year of active volunteer service. A volunteer who has begun initial membership for LOSAP within the fiscal year beginning July and ending June 30 and has accumulated 50 points within the same fiscal year will be permitted to receive credit for one full year of certified active service.
One point shall be credited for each hour of attendance in a training course approved by the Commission up to a maximum of 25 points per year. Approved courses shall include the following:
All courses offered by the Maryland Fire Rescue Institute and the Maryland Institute of Emergency Medical Services Systems (MIEMSS).
All Department Fire Training Academy courses.Prince George's County Community College courses pertaining to fire, rescue, and EMS.
University of Maryland courses related to fire, rescue and EMS.
Any special or other classes or courses not included above must be approved by the Commission and will be considered on an individual case-by-case basis.
2.2.2 Attendance of Drills
One point shall be credited for each Company or County drill attended in its entirety by the volunteer up to a maximum of 25 points per year.
2.2.3 Attendance at Meetings
One point shall be credited for each official Company, County, and Maryland State Associations' meeting up to a maximum of 25 points per year. Such meetings shall include;
Regular or special Company meetings.
Regular or special meetings of the Prince George's County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association.
Conventions of the Prince George’s County Volunteer Fire and Rescue Association, the Maryland State Firemen's Association, or the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association. Each session of a convention shall count as a separate meeting.
Meetings of the Executive Committee of the Maryland State Firemens Association.
Meetings of the Maryland Fire Chiefs Association, the International Association of Fire Chiefs (IAFC) and the Eastern Division of the IAFC.
Meetings of the National Volunteer Fire Council.
Meetings of other fire and rescue organizations that may be approved by The Fire Commission on an individual case-by-case basis.
2.2.4 Participation in Emergency Response Calls
One point shall be credited for each emergency or non-emergency response call to which a volunteer responds within the Prince George's County system for up to a maximum of 40 points per year. One response point is also earned when a volunteer comes to the station for an emergency call and then is assigned as a standby. One response point is also earned when volunteers are in the station on standby as additional staffing. Credible emergency and non emergency response calls fire alarm, ambulance (EMS) responses for either emergency or routine transportation search and rescue, hazardous materials and underwater rescue.
2.2.5 Sleep-Ins /Standbys
22.214.171.124 One point shall be credited for each standby or full night sleep-in up to a maximum of 25 points per year for all standbys and sleep-ins combined. A standby is defined as an on-duty activity of the fire department or rescue squad lasting for four hours and not falling under one of the other "Active Service" categories. A sleep-in generally defined as one full night of activity at the Company station. However, volunteers on shift work can receive sleep-in credit for the period of time during the day that would be their sleep-in period.
126.96.36.199 For the purposes of recording standby points, one standby point is interpreted as the accumulation of four hours over more than one duty shift at the Company station.
188.8.131.52 Volunteers who arrive at the station for standby duty may also get credit during the same period for performing collateral duties (defined below) and responding to fire and ambulance calls.
184.108.40.206 For the purposes of recording sleep-in points, one sleep-in point is interpreted as an individual reporting to the firehouse between the hours of 7 PM and 7 AM with the intention of staying overnight. However, shift personnel can also earn sleep in credit during other hours based on their schedule.
2.2.6 Elected / Appointed Positions
220.127.116.11 Points shall be credited for each month of active participation in and completion of an appointed or elected office or chair of a standing committee in any of the Fire or Rescue Service organizations in the State of Maryland. More than one position may be counted in attaining the maximum number of points. The points are awarded according to the following schedule:
Maximum Annual Points
Points Per Month
Chief, President or Fire Commission
All other elected or appointed, company, County, or State Association offices and committee chairmanships
In accordance with procedures established by Prince George’s County electronic LOSAP program, Chief, President and Fire Commission points may be earned in addition to points earned in the other categories. 2.2.7 Collateral Duties
One point shall be credited for each hour of acceptable collateral duties up to a maximum of 25 points per year. Collateral duties are, but are not limited to, apparatus and building maintenance, fire prevention, education and work that promotes the welfare of the local, county, or statewide volunteer fire/rescue service.
2.2.8 Military Service
A volunteer member who, during his/her membership, serves or has served full- time military service in the armed forces of the United States shall receive credit at the rate of 5 points for each month served, providing not more than 50 points can be credited for any year. A maximum of four years of creditable service may be acquired in this manner.
2.3 LOSAP Administration
2.3.1 LOSAP Duties at the Company
Each Company is responsible for assigning responsibility for performing the various LOSAP administrative tasks. Segregating these duties among different members of a Company LOSAP Committee would significantly reduce the risks for incorrect application, abuse, or fraud in the system and strengthen the internal controls. Therefore, it is required that each Company has a LOSAP Committee consisting of at least the Company president of the Board of Directors and a LOSAP administrator.
The LOSAP administrator's responsibilities include daily record maintenance, year-end compilation of each volunteer's LOSAP information, completion of all necessary forms, acquisition of required signatures, and delivery of signed and completed information to the Commission. The members of the LOSAP Committee other than the LOSAP administrator have the responsibility for approving the annual certification of volunteers after thoroughly reviewing supporting documentation. Use of the data collection forms described below is recommended. Substitute forms may be used if approved by the Fire Commission. Electronic systems may also be used if approved by the Fire Commission. If electronic systems are used, the Fire Commission will have access to the data collected and reported by the company. The company should provide information describing internal controls that will insure data integrity. The forms enclosed were developed to ensure consistency in LOSAP data collection efforts at each Company and to ensure that adequate documentation is maintained to support annual points awarded to each member. These standardized forms will also facilitate periodic audits of each Company's LOSAP records by the County's Office of Audits and Investigation and or the Fire Commission.
2.3.2 LOSAP Record Retention Requirements
Each Company is required to maintain for a period of five (5) years the supporting documentation discussed in Section 2.3.3 (1) that substantiates the LOSAP Annual Point Certification and the LOSAP Annual Report. This is based on a 3 – 5 year record retention that is customary within County Government. Information for each volunteer is retained in the LOSAP database and can only be deleted upon the death of the volunteer.
2.3.3 LOSAP Record-keeping Procedures at the Company
Exhibit 2-1 illustrates the steps for recording the activities associated with the LOSAP annual certification process in a Company. A complete description of the forms is provided in Section 3, "Description of Approved Forms." The system of accumulating points is described in Section 2.2 "Active Service Standards – Point Accumulation." Each step in the process is assigned a number from the flowchart and is described below.
Information about a volunteer's LOSAP activities is recorded at the Company. A sign-in sheet for collateral duties, sleep-ins, and standbys is required for recording date and time information. Form #4578, "Volunteer Daily Sign-in Sheet," is recommended to record information needed for determining a volunteer's points for LOSAP. In addition, Form #4577, -Volunteer Collateral Duty Sheet," is recommended to accompany Form #4578 in providing detailed descriptions of collateral duties performed at the station. It is also required that the Company's LOSAP committee review Form 4577 (or approved substitute form) to determine if work performed qualifies for LOSAP credit.
For training drills or special meetings, it is required that an attendance sheet be prepared by the person conducting the training or meeting for recording the date of the activity and the names of volunteers in attendance.
Ambulance responses are recorded on the Maryland Ambulance Information System. The officer in charge records fire responses on the Station Response Report, which may also be used to record member response information. Another officer should also review these reports.
2. The officer in charge (or other designated person) enters the fire and ambulance response reports into the Records Management System on the County mainframe computer or the successor systems if applicable.
3. If an interface exists between the Records Management System and the LOSAP database, credit for fire and ambulance responses will automatically be recorded in the database. Otherwise, the LOSAP administrator should obtain copies of the fire and ambulance response forms. As on October 2008 no such interface exists and Records Management is not able to provide reliable response data.
4. The LOSAP administrator should ensure the timely entry of data in the records or systems used to record activity.
LOSAP Standards and Procedures Guide
LOSAP Record-keeping Procedures at the Company
2.3.4 LOSAP Review Procedures Required at the Company
The review procedures required to be completed at the Company level are reflected in the flowchart in Exhibit 2-2 and described below in steps 5 through 9.
A preliminary report listing each volunteer and his or her total LOSAP points to date should be printed from the LOSAP database and posted at the station quarterly or at least three months prior to the Commission's review. The purpose is to allow volunteers an opportunity to resolve any discrepancies before annual certification is finalized. In addition, a volunteer will also have an opportunity to earn any additional points short of the 50-point requirement.
Volunteers who do not agree with their point totals should refer to the volunteer daily sign-in sheets and fire and ambulance response reports and present any additional information to the Company LOSAP Committee for consideration.
The LOSAP administrator produces the Annual Point Certification Form for each volunteer (Form #1024) and the Annual Report Form for credible service (Form #1025) from the LOSAP database.
In order to verify that the list of qualified members is true and correct, the Company LOSAP Committee should review these forms against the supporting documentation of daily sign-in sheets, attendance sheets for drills and meetings, and the fire and rescue response reports. When the president and secretary are confident that an adequate review was performed, they should sign Form #1025a.
Upon receiving the appropriate signatures from the president and secretary, the LOSAP administrator submits Form #1025 the signed Form #1025a and a completed form 1024 for each member (whether or not the member qualified) to the Commission on or before September 1. The Fire Commission will review the information submitted if approved, the company will be notified of the approval and a copy of the approved report will be given to the company to post in the station. If not approved, the company will be contacted to correct or resolve discrepancies.
For each volunteer who qualifies for the LOSAP award in the current fiscal year, the LOSAP administrator should also have up-to-date information on Form #1023 in the LOSAP database.
11. Upon receiving Form #1025 and 1025a signed by the County and the Commission, the LOSAP administrator must post a copy of these forms in each Fire/EMS station for 30 days for review by volunteers. The LOSAP administrator must enter the posting date and the appeals deadline date. A volunteer will have sixty (60) days from the day of the posting to appeal his or her LOSAP points for the fiscal year.
Exhibit 2 -2
LOSAP Review Procedures Required at the Company
2.3.5 LOSAP Procedures at the Fire Commission
The Commission performs steps 10 through 16 as described below and reflected in the flowchart in Exhibit 2-3.
The LOSAP Chair of the Commission receives signed Form 1025a from the Companies. The LOSAP Chair accesses the LOSAP database and performs a preliminary review to ensure completeness of the information before reporting it to the full Commission.
If there are any discrepancies between the Commission records and those of a Company, the LOSAP Chair will notify the company of the discrepancies. The company will either provide documentation to support their information or correct their records.
If all information is found satisfactory, the Commission votes acceptance and the Form 1025a is signed by the chair and secretary of the Commission.
The Commission sends signed Forms 1025, and 1025a to the County.
Upon receiving the signed form hack from the County, a copy of Form 1025 and 1025a is forwarded to the individual Companies. The Companies must post Form #1025 in each Fire/EMS station for 30 days for review by volunteers. A volunteer will have sixty 60 days from the posting date to appeal his or her LOSAP points for the fiscal year. The Commission will keep copies of these forms along with Form 1023 for qualified volunteers.
If a company fails to submit the required LOSAP report, the Fire Commission will prepare a report based on information in the LOSAP Database. That report will reflect the fact that the company has not submitted the required report and that the service credit of the members remains unchanged from the prior year.
The County staff performs steps 16 through 20 as described below and reflected in the flowchart in Exhibit 2-4.
The Pensions Manager reviews the list of volunteer members being awarded LOSAP benefits for eligibility.
Any discrepancies are resolved with the Commission.
The Director of Personnel and Labor Relations signs Form #1025a and returns a copy to the Commission. The Pensions department notifies the County Office of Finance to begin payments of LOSAP benefits. This is accomplished by entering data into the County's payroll system so that the Office of Finance Accounting Division can begin LOSAP payments. The Pensions department obtains information about the qualified volunteer being awarded LOSAP benefits by generating Form 1023 from the LOSAP database. For any spouse or volunteer already receiving LOSAP benefits who has moved out of the state, the Pensions department sends a form every 2 years to be signed and returned to the County that verifies the address and other vital information of the spouse or volunteer.
The Pensions department queries the LOSAP database for data to perform actuarial studies.
The Pensions department reviews findings annually with the Commission.
The County provides the Commission with the actual LOSAP benefits paid for the fiscal year end so that the Commission can perform budgetary and alternative financing analysis of future LOSAP benefits.
LOSAP Procedures at the County
Appeal provisions are available when a volunteer does not agree with the amount of service credited by the volunteer's Company. The volunteer is responsible for sending a letter to the Commission Chair. This will serve as written notice. The volunteer must submit the written notice within 60 days from the date that the signed Form #1025 is posted in the Fire/EMS station for volunteer's review. An Appeals Board consisting of the County Fire Chief, the President of the Prince George's County Fire Rescue Association, and the Commission Chair shall hear the appeal.
2.4.1 Notification Procedures
The Commission Chair will advise the County Fire Chief of the need to establish an Appeals Board hearing. The volunteer will be notified of the date and time for the hearing. The volunteer will be requested to appear before the Appeals Board with documents, witnesses, and other evidence to support any claim for greater credit.
The administrative officer (president or chief) of the volunteer's Company shall be notified of the date and time of the hearing and is requested to send a Company representative with the records or other evidence on which the original determination of service was based. A volunteer making an appeal may choose an advocate to appear with him/her during the process. It should be noted that the majority decision of the Appeals Board will be final.
2.4.2 Appeals Process
In each case of an appeal, the Appeals Board will notify the Company and appellant in writing as soon as the final decision has been made. In the case of an appeal resulting in a favorable decision to the appellant volunteer, the Company will submit a supplemental list on Form #1025 or #1025a, which will reflect the decision of the Appeals Board. The Office of the Fire Chief will handle the Appeals Board coordination. The results or decision of the Appeals Board will be sent back to the Commission.
3. DESCRIPTION OF APPROVED FORMS
This section provides information on the approved forms used in the administration and management of LOSAP. The purpose of each form and instructions on completing the forms are described below. Section 2.3, "LOSAP Administration," provides the detailed steps on how the forms are used in the LOSAP process.
3.1 Form #1023 'Volunteer Member information"
Form #1023 has four purposes. It is used for recording initial information about a new volunteer member of a Company, changes in information for a volunteer member (i.e., name and address), transfers of membership from one Company to another, and for submittal of the LOSAP award for a qualified volunteer. Users should check one of these categories at the top of the form to indicate how the form is being used.
3.1.1 New Member Information
The new member volunteer should fill out this information. In the first section on the left side only, fill in name, address, city, state, zip, and telephone number with area code. In the second section, all information must be completed correctly and includes Prince George's Fire Department Identification Number (PGFD 4), initial date of membership, social security number, and date of birth. Member must sign the form along with the Company president and secretary.
3.1.2 Change of Information
Current member volunteers should fill out this information. In the first section on the left side, fill in name, address, city, state, zip, and telephone number with area code. On the right side, fill in only the information that has changed. All other information should be completed as described above. Only the member's signature is required.