The Firefighters’ Relief Fund (FRF) benefit (General Statutes 58-84-1 through 58-84-60 ) was passed into Legislation in 1907. Its purpose was to financially assist firefighters that may have been injured while volunteering their service to their community. This is funded by a percentage of the tax paid on property coverage pursuant to G.S 105-228.5.
The following requirements must be met annually to become eligible to receive local Firefighters’ Relief Funds: 1) A rated fire department must be a member of the State Firemen’s Association; 2) A financial report of the local Firefighters’ Relief Fund receipts, disbursements, and remaining balance must be submitted to the State Firemen’s Association; (the State Firemen’s Association mails the Financial Statement directly to the fire department each June) 3) A Report of Fire Conditions Form, which provides the names of the local Firefighters’ Relief Fund board, must be submitted to the Insurance Commissioner; (the Department of Insurance mails the Report of Fire Conditions to the Clerks each August 15) and 4) All General Statute requirements must be met by October 31 of each year.
A local Firefighters’ Relief Fund Board of Trustee’s shall be elected/appointed to control the local funds. The Firefighters’ Relief Fund Board of Trustee’s is comprised of five (5) people: two shall be elected by the fire department and shall either be a resident of the fire district or an active or retired member of the fire department; two shall be elected by the City/or County governing body, and members appointed pursuant to this section shall be residents of the fire district; and one shall be appointed by the Insurance Commissioner. The member appointed pursuant to this section shall be either a resident of the fire district or an active or retired member of the fire department. One of the local relief fund board members will be chosen to serve as the Firefighters’ Relief Fund Treasurer. The state provides a bond to cover Treasurers of local Firefighters’ Relief Funds. A board member’s term shall be as follows: the fire department and City/County Commissioners shall hold an election each January to elect their representatives to the board. One member will serve for two years and one member will serve for one year. Thereafter, each year in January they shall elect only one member, and his term of office shall be for two years. The Commissioner of Insurance appointee shall serve at the pleasure of the Insurance Commissioner.
The FRF general statutes remained virtually unchanged until the 1950’s. Worker’s compensation benefits became prevalent, and as a result, local fund balances increased. Many municipal fire departments began to realize their fund balances were becoming substantial. Local bills began to be introduced into the General Assembly to allow a portion of local fund balances to be used for supplemental retirement for local firefighters. A portion of the fund balance remained intact to provide financial aid to a firefighter or his family if injured or killed in line of duty and to safeguard any firefighter that had honorably served for five (5) years from becoming destitute.
In 1984, the General Assembly amended G.S. 58-84-35 to allow additional expenditures to local funds. Funds may be used to provide for benefits of supplemental retirement, workers compensation, and other insurance and pension protection for firemen; to provide for educational benefits to firemen and their dependents who otherwise qualify for benefits from the Firefighters’ Relief Fund; or to provide assistance to a destitute member fireman who has served honorably for at least five years. Fire departments that have a local supplemental bill may also utilize the fund for the additional benefits listed above. No expenditures shall be made to any of the above unless the State Firemen’s Association has certified that such expenditures will not render the Fund actuarially unsound for its original intent.
FRF administered by the NC State Firemen’s Association 919-821-2132 and the NC Department of Insurance 919-661-5880 ext 316. Diane Whitman.