Highland FD seeks to increase benefits

By Mark Reynolds
Posted 12/4/19

There is an election set for Tuesday, December 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the firehouse at 25 Milton Avenue for residents to vote for a Fire Commissioner. There are five Fire Commissioners who are …

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Highland FD seeks to increase benefits

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There is an election set for Tuesday, December 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. at the firehouse at 25 Milton Avenue for residents to vote for a Fire Commissioner. There are five Fire Commissioners who are elected for five year terms and every year one is up for election. This year Christian Erichsen is seeking re-election and no one else is on the ballot.

In addition, the department has put a proposition on the ballot concerning the Length of Service Award Program [LOSAP] that residents will also vote on.

Commissioner Stephen DiLorenzo explained this department program that was started in 1998.

“It’s a pension fund that volunteer firemen yearly have to qualify for by earning 50 points,” he said. “You get points by attending 10 percent of the fire calls and the rest of the points they have to make up in other areas. There is a Chief’s training, duty nights, social events, fire department meetings with each valued at one point.”

DiLorenzo said they are looking to go from a firefighter receiving $20 a month for 30 years of service to an increase of $30 a month for a maximum of 40 years of service. The department also wants to lower the age entitlement from 60 to 55 years old.

Chief Peter Miller said if a firefighter meets the minimum of fire calls they would receive 25 points, “but you need 50 based on meetings, drills and everything else.” All of the other qualifying categories have point caps.

DiLorenzo pointed out that participation data is filed on a sheet that Chief Miller reviews to ensure the information is valid.

Miller described a possible scenario: if a firefighter stays in for 30 years and meets the point qualification, upon reaching 55 they would receive a $900 check each month. He pointed out that the maximum a firefighter could receive at the 40 year mark would be $1,200 a month for life.

DiLorenzo said this program is a defined benefit plan that gives monthly payments. He said the department offers this as a way to retain firefighters and as a way to attract younger people to the fire service. He pointed out that the department presently pays out about $84,000 a year for the LOSAP program, which may jump up to approximately $100,000 if the voters approve lowering the age qualification to 55. He added that because the department has done well in their investments the program does not significantly impact the overall fire department budget that presently runs about $1.2 million annually.

Miller said, “Our goal with this is to try to get people to stay and possibly get people that are interested, in looking at it that it could be a benefit to them.”

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