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Law Restricts Volunteer Firefighters From Holding Elected Office
Updated February 7, 2014 6:56 AM | Filed under: Politics
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(UNDATED) - A new state law restricts volunteer firefighter from holding an elected office.

Candidates on the May Primary Election ballot have to make a decision whether they will serve in the position to which they are elected or resign and continue being a volunteer firefighter.

The Greene County Daily World reports that two Greene County volunteer firefighters were notified about the law after filing to be on the ballot.

Wright Township Fire Chief Nolan 'Jack' Wilson is a Democrat candidate for reelection to the Wright Township Advisory Board. Wilson has served as a volunteer firefighter for 35 years.

Center Township Trustee James Durham is a Democrat candidate for re-election. He's also been a member of the Center Township Fire and Rescue unit for a decade.

The law prohibits an elected official from also working as an employee, if the employee is of the same unit which the elected officials serve.

A volunteer firefighter could belong to a neighboring department, but serve on the advisory board or as a trustee in their home township.

While the new law does not add qualifications to run for office, it does limit the employment options of locally elected officials. A paid or a volunteer firefighter may not assume or hold a position in local government that receives fire protection from the department which the firefighter serves.

Indiana Code IC 3-5-9-4 says this includes a fire department that is under contract, excluding a mutual aid agreement.

The law, which took effect on January 1, 2013, states that after the expiration of the term of the elected office that the volunteer firefighter must decide whether to continue as a firefighter or take the new office in the event they are successful in the November General Election.

Many volunteer firefighters say politicians believe it is a conflict of interest, but volunteer firefighters don't get paid for their service. They hope the General Assembly will revise or throw out the law. They also state the law says nothing about reserve police officers, just volunteer and paid firefighters, which is unfair.

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