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Tuesday November 21, 2017

North Carolina State Firemen’s Association Retirement Plan

Since 1998 the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association has been petitioning the IRS to allow career firefighters employed by non-profit fire departments access to the local government retirement system.  It was obvious the effort would not be successful so the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association decided to create their own retirement program.  Work on the system began about 18 months ago and is now coming to fruition.  We began signing-up fire departments on January 2, 2012.  Each eligible department will be allowed to design their program to suit the needs of the fire department and the participants.  We know we have created a fantastic plan, and it is a plan that will benefit the members.  That always has been our goal.  For information on the plan and to receive help signing-up please contact Deborah Phillips with Heritage Pension Services at 336-777-3615 or  Deborah and the staff at Heritage will work with you and answer all your questions. 

See the Memorandum below for additional information on the plan.




To:  All Departments Participating in the NCSFA 401(k) Plan


Date:  December 5, 2011

The North Carolina State Firemen’s Association provides  a 401(k) retirement plan form that may be adopted by the  not for profit (non-governmental) fire departments which employ paid full time and\or part time firefighters.  This plan has been in place since January 1, 1998.  Many changes and improvements in retirement plans have occurred over the years and the NCSFA felt compelled to explore the newer products available today.  As a result of that investigation the NCSFA made a decision to change the plan currently offered. 

 This new plan will also be for non-governmental fire departments that employ full time and part time firefighters.  This will be a multiple employer plan that allows individual fire departments to design their program to meet their particular needs.  This plan is designed so that the assets can be rolled over to the local government retirement plan if the opportunity ever presents itself.  Participants will find that a combination of the new plan, the economy of scale, and new, lower fees will make this plan very popular.

 This plan has a starting date of January 2012.  Prior to the start of this plan we will be freezing the old 401(k) plan. As part of the freeze of the old plan, no new loans are allowed.   Each participating Department will have several choices to consider. These choices must be made at the Department level and are not separate choices by each participant. The options your Department has are complex so a more detailed explanation will be provided next week. However, in general, the options are (1) leave the money in the old plan until all surrender charges have passed and then move the funds to your new plan, or (2) immediately move all funds to the new plan. 

If you have any questions or concerns, please call Deborah Phillips at Heritage Pension Services.  Her phone number is 336-777-3615.  She and her staff have the ability to explain all of the options and help you make the decision that is best for you. 



Paul F. Miller, Executive Director

Volunteer Recruitment and Retention

Broadway Volunteer Fire Department, Wilkes County

Recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters can be challenging. Family and professional commitments along with challenges of being a firefighter can make it difficult to attract and keep volunteers.

The National Volunteer Fire Council has excellent resources to help your department recruit and retain personnel.

In 2004 the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association was awarded a federal grant for a recruitment campaign. This campaign was headed by Past President Jeff Cash and included a public service announcement (PSA) that was shown on television throughout our state.

The PSA was also sent to all fire department in the state to assist them in their recruiting efforts.

Legislative Day 2011 Set: May 17

NCSFA President Wesley Greene (left) and Executive Director Paul Miller enter the Legislative Building in Raleigh in 2010.

RALEIGH – May 17, 2011 is the date of the North Carolina State Firemen’s Association Legislative Day.  Please mark your calendars and plan to attend.

It has been said a thousand times but it is so true—legislators want to speak to members they represent.  House and Senate members respond best to those who vote for them.  There are 120 members in the House of Representatives and 50 members in the Senate.

A large number of our members of the General Assembly are new and beginning to learn the process.  This is a most important time to make friends and tell our story.  We need our members from the East, West and Piedmont to attend.

Our goal is to have at least one member from each district in Raleigh on May 17th to meet and greet your House and Senate members.  More details will follow as we better define the events of the day.

Transitioning to a Combination Department

Garner firefighters battle a house fire on December 31, 2010. Lee Wilson Photo

Transitioning from a volunteer department to a department with part-time or full-time employees can be difficult.

NFPA Standards, OSHA Regulations, Federal/State Labor Laws and IRS rules impact a department’s transformation from an all volunteer department to a combination department. The number of combination departments in North Carolina increase year after year, especially in the non-profit (501-C3, 501-C4) departments.

In 2010, it was estimated that there are roughly 1600 fulltime employees and approximately 3200 part-time employees of non-profit fire departments in our state and that number increases each year.

Below are links to resources that combination departments or departments transitioning to combination may find helpful.

It is recommended that all departments seek legal counsel and a CPA to assist them thru the transition.

International Association of Fire Chiefs / Volunteer Combination Chief Officer Section:
Red Ribbon Report – Leading the Transition in Volunteer and Combination Departments

North Carolina Department of Labor (NC OSHA)

National Fire Protection Association (standards can be viewed on-line at no charge)

OSFM Occupational Safety and Health Planning Document

NCAFC Fire Service Reference Manual

Possible New Retirement Plan in the Works

RALEIGH -The North Carolina State Firemen’s Association is investigating the possibility of forming a Defined Contribution Plan for fire departments that are non-governmental units.

We are doing this in response to the many requests received from our members.

It is our hope that the creation of this plan will improve recruitment and retention for those eligible departments.

If the plan is well received and we have enough participation the plan should be in place and ready to implement by July 1, 2011.

To help us in the process, please take a few minutes to fill out this on-line survey.

Stay tuned in for updates on the progress of the plan.