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Tuesday November 21, 2017

Bereavement Uniform Program


‘Taking Care of Those Who took Care of Us’ ™

After fifteen years, the Lighthouse Uniform Company’s  Fallen Fire Fighter Dress Uniform Program has dropped the LODD requirement and is making a dress uniform for burial purposes available to any family wanting one.  The new program is called the Bereavement Uniform.

It is a collaborative effort between the Fire Service and the Lighthouse Uniform Company.  It calls for departments and firefighters to check their ‘closets’ for dress uniforms ‘surplused’ or no longer fitting and to send them in to the Lighthouse.

The Lighthouse cleans, refurbishes, reconfigures to rank and makes them available to any family requesting one for burial purposes, at ‘no cost’ to the family.  The only charge is for freight which will be billed to the affiliated department.

The Bereavement Uniform Program (BUP) does not live on the Lighthouse website and a dedicated BUP webpage has been built to insure easy, timely access for all and from all indications, the long term viability of the program is directly related to staying in a department’s ‘line of sight’.

To that end, please link the program to your department website. 

When you do, the members of your department, active and retired, and their families will have easy, timely access, anonymity if so desired, and your linking will help keep the Bereavement Uniform Program at the top of Internet searches.

The html code to use; <p><a href=””>lighthouse-fire-dept-class-a-bereavement-uniform-program</a></p>. 

The link on your dept. website will read; lighthouse-fire-dept-class-a-bereavement-uniform-program. 

If you need any help, have any questions, would like to engage the Bereavement Uniform Program, either to donate or receive, please don’t hesitate to call. There is, of course, neither cost nor obligation, only the satisfaction of ‘taking care of those who took care of us’.

Very best regards,

Steve Cohen, Pres.
Lighthouse Uniform Company

Important Information on Your Department’s Roster Renewal Process for 2014


Roster Renewal 2014

Chiefs, the following roster renewal changes have occurred for the 2013 roster Certification of Firefighters and Association membership.

• The NCSFA is no longer accepting paper copies of roster renewals, certification of firefighters, and addition and deletion of members.

• All roster renewals, Certification of Firefighters, and Roster Maintenance are to be completed online at

• Certification of members for 2013 must be submitted online between December 1, 2013 thru January 15, 2014 to earn service credit for the 2013 year in the North Carolina State Fire and Rescue Pension Fund. Certification hours submitted after January 15, 2014 will cause a forfeiture of service credit in the North Carolina State Fire and Rescue Pension Fund.

• After successful competition of The Certification Roster go online January 17, 2014 thru February 17, 2014 to add and delete members for your 2014 roster and pay online.

• Certification of Firefighter’s Report is now online.

NCSFA Going Green!


RALEIGH – The North Carolina State Firemen’s Association is going green!

We Are moving all Roster Renewals online in 2014 and will no longer be sending paper copies of the department roster to update in November of each year.

To make the transition to paperless a smooth one, the rosters will be accessible throughout the entire year.

Departments will have until January 15th to get rosters updated online, membership paid, and the Certification of Firemen’s Report sent to the NCSFA office.

After January 15th your roster will be considered late and NCSFA benefits for your members will cease until updates are made and the payment received.

Members will forfeit the previous year’s service credit with the North Carolina Firemen’s & Rescue Squad Workers Pension Fund if rosters, payment, and the Certification of Firemen’s Report are not received by January 15th of each year.

If you would like to begin making your department’s roster changes now and you have not received a login and password for the online system please call the NCSFA office to set up your account.

The Online Roster Management site has undergone numerous updates and we hope you will find it is easy to use.

Call 800-253-4733 for assistance.

A Message from Chief Kevin Gordon: NCSFA Roster Renewal Updates, Pension Fund Information, and WNCAFF Meeting Information

A portion of the article below, written by Chief Kevin Gordon, was inadvertently left out of our most recent newsletter.  We apologize for the oversight.

North Carolina State Firemen’s Association (NCSFA) roster renewals for calendar year 2013 will soon be mailed to all fire departments in North Carolina.  North Carolina General Statute 58-86-25 requires that all certified fire departments submit a complete roster of its eligible firefighters annually.  The NCSFA certified roster also serves as the certification roster for the State Treasurer’s Office.  This eliminates the need to send a certification roster to the state.  Fire departments must also certify the training hours for their membership.  Fire Chiefs are statutorily required to provide NCSFA with a certified roster and the “Annual Certification of Firefighters” document.  Certification is also required for those participating in the pension fund to receive a year of credit.  The certification year runs from January 1, 2012 – December 31, 2012 for this roster renewal.

We strongly encourage all NC Fire Departments to join NCSFA, but membership with NCSFA is not a statuary requirement.  Membership dues are $20.00 per person listed on your roster, including retirees if you choose to keep them on your roster.  Your benefits with the NCSFA will cease at midnight on January 31, 2013 if the renewals have not been completed.  Benefits will be reinstated when membership dues arrive in our office.  Non-members of NCSFA are simply certifying that your members have the required 36 hours of meetings and drills so that they are covered under the state line-of-duty death benefit.  Finally, non-members of NCSFA will not be covered by any benefits offered by the NCSFA.

Firemen’s and Rescue Squad Workers’ Pension Fund –


Members are eligible to become a member of the Pen­sion Fund if you are an “eligible fireman.” An “eli­gible fireman” must belong to a fire department that:

  • is rated by the Fire Insurance Rating Bureau and is certified by the Department of Insurance as not less than a Class “9S” department,
  • meets minimum equipment requirements ($5,000 replacement value),
  • files a roster annually with the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association (which is forward­ed to the Pension Fund Office), and
  • holds drills and meetings not less than four hours monthly (of which members are re­quired to attend at least 36 hours per year).


Members’ contributions to the Pension Fund, the in­vestment earnings on total contributions, and an annual appropriation by the State from its Gen­eral Fund pay the cost of providing your Pension Fund benefits.  The States’ contributions are approximately $151 per member annually plus any additional accrued liability.  Our share of the cost is $10 monthly. Members normally must pay into the Pension Fund for 20 years, or a maximum of $2,400, to receive a monthly benefit at retirement.


March 30, 2013 will be the deadline for departments to submit their turn-around documents and accompanying payments to ensure that eligible members receive proper credit in the Pension Fund for the year of 2012.  Please make sure your department is up-to-date with submission of the turn-around document and applicable payment.  According to the latest actuarial report, there was a member contribution deficit of $2,524,845.  As of June 30, 2011, there were 39,734 members in the Pension Fund.  That means there are over 21,000 members who are delinquent if the member contribution deficit is over 2.5 million.  If you are unsure of your department’s or squad’s status, please contact the Pension Fund Office.  Their contact information is (877) 508-9110 or

While teaching Chief 101, I routinely get questions regarding refunds from the Pension Fund.  There was a small change in the refund process several years ago.

  • If you (the member) are no longer eligible or choose not to par­ticipate in the Fund for any reason other than retirement or death, you can receive a refund of your contributions.  However, if you have less than five years of contributing service, a refund of contributions will be made directly to your de­partment or squad provided they made the con­tributions on your behalf and have specified that these proceeds are to be refunded to the depart­ment or squad.
  • If you (the member) have five or more years of contribut­ing service and you withdraw from the Pension Fund, you will receive both your contributions and contributions paid by others on your behalf.
  • No interest will be paid on the amount of the re­fund.


It is important to remember, that in order to become a member of the Pension Fund, you must complete an enrollment application (Form 350) through your department or squad and mail it with your first payment (contributions are $10 per month) to the Pension Fund Office.  Your enrollment date in the Fund will be effective in the month in which both the application and contribution are received by the Fund.  Roster time, reported from NCSFA or NCAREMS, prior to joining the Pension Fund will not show up on the turn-around document.


Members are also encouraged to establish an ORBIT account.  ORBIT stands for “Online Retirement Benefits through Integrated Technology”.  This system was created by the North Carolina Department of State Treasurer to allow members convenient access to their retirement account in­formation 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  This secure site enables you to view your personal in­formation, account information, and other relevant details specific to your retirement system account.  Members of the Pension Fund can check and verify their roster credit (from NCSFA certified roster) and contributions credit (member’s contributions made by the member or department).


To access ORBIT, go to their website at www., click on the ORBIT icon (under the “Retirement&Savings” tab) and follow the instructions to log into your personal ORBIT account.

  1. Register for ORBIT via the Register button on the login page.
  2. Follow the prompts for registration.
  3. Once you have registered, you are able to gain access to ORBIT using the User ID and Pass­word that you created.



Recent Changes to the Firefighters’ Relief Fund –


The North Carolina General Assembly established a fund in 1907 known as the State Relief Fund for Firemen.  The Fireman’s Relief Fund is administered through the NC Department of Insurance via the Office of State Fire Marshal and is funded by a percentage of the tax paid on property coverage pursuant to G.S. 105-228.5.


Fire departments must meet the following requirements to receive the tax that is collected within their fire district (recent changes are in bold and underlined):

  • Member of the NCSFA.
  • Submit Firefighter’s Relief Fund financial statement to the NC State Firemen’s Association and due by October 31 of each year.  This statement must now be submitted electronically through the NCSFA Records System (iMAS).
  • Establish a Firefighter’s Relief Fund Board of Trustees. This board consists of:
    • Two Trustees elected by the fire department.  These two Trustees shall be either residents of the fire district or active or retired members of the fire department.
    • Two positions appointed by the City or County Commissioners.  These two Trustees shall be residents of the fire district.
    • One position appointed by the Insurance Commissioner.  This Trustee shall be either a resident of the fire district or an active or retired member of the fire department.
  • One of the five (5) Fire Relief Fund Board Members shall be elected as the Treasurer.
  • The North Carolina Department of Insurance provides a blanket honesty bond to cover all local Firefighter’s Relief Fund Treasurer’s.
  • Submit the Report of Fire Condition form to the Department of Insurance.

The Department of Insurance annually compiles the above qualifications for each rated fire district to verify which fire departments are eligible to receive their Firefighter’s Relief Fund tax. Fire departments that meet all requirements are eligible to receive the tax collected within their rated fire district.  The Firefighter’s Relief Fund checks are mailed to the City/County Clerk-Finance Officer with a memo instructing them to forward to the fire department.  If a fire department fails to meet all of the requirements, their tax money is transferred to the NCSFA to be held in the State Firefighter’s Relief Fund account.  Routinely, close to 150 Fire Departments failed to meet the requirement to receive their Firefighter’s Relief Fund check.  Please contact any Board Member or NC OSFM (Diane Whitman) if you have questions or need assistance in securing Firefighter’s Relief Fund funds for your fire district.


Western North Carolina Association of Fire Fighters –


The next meeting of the Western North Carolina Association of Fire Fighters (WNCAFF) will be held January 16th, 2013 at the Kings Mountain Fire Department.  The remaining 2013 meeting schedule is as follows: April 17, McDowell County; July 17, Cullowhee Fire Department; and October 16, Skyland Fire Department.  Please join me in congratulating Chief Eric Wiseman (Parkway Fire and Rescue) in his recent election as 2nd Vice President to the WNCAFF. The 2013 Officers are:  President William Hunt, 1st Vice President David Hughes, 2nd Vice President Eric Wiseman, Secretary Anthony Penland, Treasurer Dean Coward, and Past President Scott Burnette.  The Regional Directors to the WNCAFF are Curt Deaton (Mooresville Fire and Rescue) serving the Mountain Region, Kevin Mundy (Barnardsville Fire Department) serving the Highlands Region, and Lee Carswell (Lovelady Fire and Rescue) serving the Foothills Region.

In closing, I would like to wish you and your family a Merry Christmas and a prosperous New Year.  Please do not hesitate to contact any Executive Board Member (contact me either by e-mail at,, or by phone at 704.995.3261) or NCSFA Staff if you have questions, comments, or concerns.  Please be safe in all you do as you serve those who depend on you.


Gastonia fire chief overseeing state firemen’s association


Chief Phil Welch, Gastonia Fire Department


Michael Barrett
To some people, becoming the president of an organization means you’re finally able to kick up your heels and let the underlings do the dirty work.

A longtime colleague of Gastonia Fire Chief Phillip Welch Jr., the newly appointed president of the N.C. State Firemen’s Association, said that’s the last thing that will happen in this case.

“Phil is a great individual and very dedicated. He’s very well prepared because of all the years he’s served on the board,” said Paul Miller, the 22-year executive director of the NCSFA. “He’s been involved in a number of major decisions that have had a huge impact on our members over the years.”

A Gastonia native, Welch was 19 years old when he began his full-time career with the Gastonia Fire Department in 1980. He achieved his “dream job” of becoming the agency’s 18th fire chief in 2009. And this month, he was the first Gastonia firefighter in the department’s 108-year history to be designated the NCSFA’s president.

“I’ve been blessed to live out my dream,” he said this week, after being honored by the Gastonia City Council with a proclamation Tuesday.

The NCSFA is celebrating its 125th anniversary this year as the lead organization for firefighters across the state. It provides insurance and benefits for its approximately 48,000 individual members, advocates on their behalf and lobbies in Raleigh for legislation that enhances fire safety.

“We work very closely to support any fire safety-related issues that are out there,” Welch said.

Welch began his service on the NCSFA’s state board as the statistician, compiling all data about statewide firefighter injuries and fatalities, and held that position nine years. For the last seven years, he has advanced through the ranks as a high-level director on the board.

Welch said his 16 years with the organization have given him a unique insight into its core values and mission.

“I’ve been one of the very fortunate people to have had many years on the board,” he said. “It’s quite a process.”

His term as president will now last one year.


Long list of accolades

Welch’s entire NCSFA service has come while he maintained full-time positions here in Gaston County. His list of professional achievements is extensive, and includes numerous fire service degrees.

He is a 2004 Executive Fire Officer graduate of the National Fire Academy in Emmitsburg, Md. And he received the Chief Fire Officer designation from the Center for Public Safety Excellence.

Welch started out as an unpaid 18-year-old with the Union Road Volunteer Fire Department, and later served as its fire chief for several years. After joining Gastonia, he left in 1991 to become the first director of Gaston College’s newly constructed Regional Emergency Services Training Center.

Before leaving that year, he told then-Gastonia Fire Chief Bob Murray that he hoped to one day return and fill Murray’s seat. It was a dream he would realize 18 years later.

Murray, a past president of the N.C. Association of Fire Chiefs, described Welch as a “super leader” who he hated to lose in 1991. But it was for the best, he said.

“I give him credit for making the college program what it is,” he said. “It’s one of the best in the state, if not the best anywhere.”

Murray said he has no doubt Welch’s service as NCSFA president will pay dividends for North Carolina, not to mention Gastonia.

“I’m very proud of him,” Murray  said. “He’ll do a super job.”

You can reach Michael Barrett at 704-869-1826 or


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