In June of 2020, New York State Legislation was adopted which allowed local government sponsors of Service Award Programs to adopt resolutions to award up to five ‘COVID points’ per month to active volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers during periods when, due to the COVID 19 pandemic, so called ‘Special Response Rules’ were initiated by volunteer fire companies and volunteer ambulance squads. The Special Response Rules included fire and ambulance station closures, restrictions on which volunteers could respond to calls, cancellation of volunteer firefighter and ambulance worker activities, etc.
The governing boards of these municipalities specified the number of points to be awarded each month during the Special Response Rule period in the resolutions they adopted. Many also specified in their resolution the date the Special Response Rule period started and, in some cases, when it ended. The only restriction was that no points could be awarded before March 7, 2020 or after June 24, 2021 which were the beginning and ending dates of the governor’s emergency declaration.
If your Special Response Rule periods ended after December 31, 2020, the COVID points earned by active volunteers, and any new volunteers, during 2021 when the Special Response Rules were still in effect must be included in the 2021 year-end calculations showing which volunteers earned 50 or more points in 2021 and which did not. Remember, no COVID points can be awarded for Special Response Rule periods which ended after June 24, 2021.
Of note, a few of our clients adopted resolutions that lowered the number of COVID points to be awarded after a specified date within the Special Response Rule period. For example, five points per month through February 1, 2021, and two points per month thereafter. If your municipality did that, be sure to reflect it in the calculation of the total points for 2021.
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