Code of Virginia

Code of Virginia
Title 51.1. Pensions, Benefits, and Retirement
12/16/2019

Chapter 12. Volunteer Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Service Award Fund.

§ 51.1-1200. Fund established; administration and management; Volunteer Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Service Award Fund Board.

There is hereby created a fund to be known and designated as the "Volunteer Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Service Award Fund" (the Fund). The Fund is established to provide service awards to eligible volunteer firefighters and volunteer emergency medical services personnel who elect to become members of the Fund. The Volunteer Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Service Award Fund Board (the Board) shall utilize the assistance of the Virginia Retirement System in establishing, investing, and maintaining the Fund. The Board of Trustees of the Virginia Retirement System shall administer and manage the investment of the Fund as custodian and provide staff to further carry out the provisions of this chapter. The Virginia Retirement System shall invest the Funds in accordance with Article 3.1 (§ 51.1-124.30 et seq.) of Chapter 1. The Fund shall annually reimburse the Virginia Retirement System for all costs incurred and associated, directly and indirectly, with the administration of this chapter and management and investment of the Fund.

1999, cc. 664, 860; 2001, c. 672; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 51.1-1201. Volunteer Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Service Award Fund Board.

A. The Volunteer Firefighters' and Rescue Squad Workers' Service Award Fund Board is hereby created and is to be composed of 10 members. The Director of the Virginia Retirement System shall be a member and act as chairman. The Governor shall appoint three members of the Board from a list provided by the Virginia State Firefighters Association and three members from a list provided by the Virginia Association of Volunteer Rescue Squads. Such appointees shall be confirmed by the General Assembly and shall serve for six-year terms. No Board member appointed by the Governor shall serve more than two full consecutive terms. The Speaker of the House of Delegates shall appoint two members of the House of Delegates and the Senate Committee on Rules shall appoint one member of the Senate. Legislative members shall serve terms coincident with their terms of office.

B. The Director of the Virginia Retirement System with the consent of the Board shall immediately declare the office of any nonlegislative member of the Board vacant when he finds that the member is unable to perform the duties of his office or for any reason does not meet the qualifications of this section. The Governor shall appoint a new member, subject to confirmation by the General Assembly, to serve for a full or unexpired term whenever the office of a nonlegislative member becomes or is declared vacant. In any case where a new appointment is made, the person receiving the appointment shall be a (i) volunteer firefighter representative if his predecessor was a volunteer firefighter representative or (ii) volunteer emergency medical services personnel representative if his predecessor was a volunteer emergency medical services personnel representative.

C. The members of the Board shall serve without compensation; however, the nongovernmental members may be reimbursed for their reasonable expenses incurred in attending meetings of the Board or in acting in an official capacity for the Board.

D. The first Board appointed shall meet as soon as practicable for the purpose of organizing and electing officers. Officers other than the chairman shall be elected for one-year terms. The Board shall adopt a general statement of policy and procedures. The Board shall meet at least annually and at such special meetings as the chairman may call. The chairman may call a special meeting at any time and shall call a special meeting when requested by three or more members of the Board. No meeting shall be deemed a regular or special meeting unless a quorum is present.

E. Members of the Board shall be subject to removal from office only as set forth in Article 7 (§ 24.2-230 et seq.) of Chapter 2 of Title 24.2. The Circuit Court of the City of Richmond shall have exclusive jurisdiction over such removal proceedings.

1999, cc. 664, 860; 2000, c. 911; 2001, c. 672; 2006, c. 707; 2015, cc. 502, 503; 2017, c. 209.

§ 51.1-1202. Powers and duties of the Board.

The Board shall promulgate such rules and policies as are necessary to carry out its responsibilities as required by this chapter. The Board may contract the administrative services related to the service awards provided for herein and designate authority for the administration of those service awards based on the standards set forth in § 51.1-124.30. The Board or its designee shall (i) request such general fund appropriations as necessary to maintain the Fund, (ii) make determinations of eligibility for membership in the Fund, (iii) approve applications for service awards to be paid from the Fund, and (iv) exercise all other powers necessary for the administration of this chapter and management of the Fund. Member contributions to the Fund shall be segregated into separate member accounts and be used only to pay service awards to its members. The Board shall adopt rules and policies that bring the Fund into compliance with any applicable law or regulation of this Commonwealth or the United States.

1999, cc. 664, 860; 2001, c. 672.

§ 51.1-1203. Definitions.

For purposes of this chapter, unless the context requires a different meaning:

"Creditable service" means service as an eligible volunteer plus any service credited pursuant to § 51.1-1207.

"Eligible volunteer" means any volunteer emergency medical services personnel or any volunteer firefighter who is a member of a bona fide volunteer emergency medical services agency or volunteer fire department and who is otherwise eligible pursuant to the criteria established by the Board.

"Member" means an eligible volunteer.

1999, cc. 664, 860; 2002, c. 349; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 51.1-1204. Application for membership in Fund; quarterly payments by members; matching payments from the general fund; payments credited to separate accounts of members.

Eligible volunteers, and all persons who subsequently become eligible volunteers, may apply to the Board for membership in the Fund. Upon becoming a member of the Fund, each eligible volunteer shall pay an amount to be set by the Board per quarter into the Fund. Each quarterly payment made by a member shall be supplemented by such contribution from the general fund of the state treasury for a period not to exceed 20 years as shall be determined by the Board and as may be appropriated by the general appropriation act. The quarterly payments shall be credited to the separate accounts of the members, and the matching contributions shall be credited to the Fund. The member contribution or any additional contribution to the Fund may be made by (i) the individual fire department or emergency medical services agency, provided it is paid for all eligible members of the Fund within the particular fire department or emergency medical services agency; (ii) local government, provided it is paid for all eligible members of the Fund who are volunteers for fire departments or emergency medical services agencies within the jurisdiction of the local government; or (iii) any other source provided it is paid for all eligible members of the Fund. Such accounts shall be kept so that they are available for payment on withdrawal from membership or upon receipt of the service award. No eligible volunteer shall maintain more than one membership in the Fund. In the event an eligible volunteer is in more than one eligible position, he must choose the position upon which his membership will be determined.

1999, cc. 664, 860; 2001, c. 672; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 51.1-1205. Equivalent distribution.

Any member who has attained the age of sixty and who has ten years of creditable service as an eligible volunteer shall be entitled to a distribution from the Fund equivalent to the contributions that he has made, the appropriate matching contributions made on his behalf, and any investment gains on such contributions less any losses, provided that such amount shall be reduced by the amount of any distribution to such member under § 51.1-1206. The Board may provide alternative methods of distribution in lieu of a lump sum distribution to members entitled to a service award under this section.

The distributions provided shall be in addition to all pensions or other benefits under any other statutes of the Commonwealth or the United States.

1999, cc. 664, 860; 2001, c. 672; 2002, c. 349.

§ 51.1-1206. Other distributions.

The Board shall direct payment in lump sums from the Fund as follows:

1. To any eligible volunteer firefighter or eligible volunteer who is an individual who meets the definition of "emergency medical services personnel" in § 32.1-111.1 upon attaining age 60 who has at least five but less than 10 years of creditable service as an eligible volunteer, an amount equal to (i) the amount paid into the Fund by him plus (ii) the amount paid into the Fund on his behalf by his fire department or emergency medical services agency plus (iii) the amount paid into the Fund on his behalf by his local government plus (iv) the amount paid into the Fund on his behalf by any other source plus (v) a portion of the amount paid into the Fund, on his behalf, from the general fund of the state treasury pursuant to § 51.1-1204 plus (vi) any investment gains less any losses on the amounts paid into the Fund described under clauses (i) through (v). The portion of the amount paid from the general fund on behalf of such person that shall be paid to such person shall be based upon such person's years of creditable service as follows:

aYears of creditable servicePortion of general fund contributions to be paid
bAt least five but less than sixFive percent of general fund contributions
cAt least six but less than sevenTen percent of general fund contributions
dAt least seven but less than eightTwenty-five percent of general fund contributions
eAt least eight but less than nineForty-five percent of general fund contributions
fAt least nine but less than tenSeventy percent of general fund contributions

In any case where the person shall be paid less than 100 percent of the general fund contributions made on his behalf, the investment gain or investment loss applicable to such contributions that shall be paid, or subtracted from any payment otherwise required, to such person shall equal the amount of the investment gain or investment loss, applicable to such contributions at the time of payment, multiplied by the percentage of such general fund contributions to be paid to the person as determined under this subdivision.

2. If the eligible volunteer firefighter or volunteer who is an individual who meets the definition of "emergency medical services personnel" in § 32.1-111.1 ceases to serve as a volunteer and has less than five years of creditable service upon attaining age 60, such person shall not be paid, nor have any right or interest in, the amount paid into the Fund on his behalf (i) by his fire department or emergency medical services agency, (ii) from the general fund of the state treasury pursuant to § 51.1-1204, or (iii) by any local government. Such person shall, however, be paid all contributions to the Fund that he has made plus the applicable portion of any investment gains or losses thereon.

The amount paid into the Fund on his behalf by his fire department or emergency medical services agency shall remain in the Fund and shall be deemed additional contributions made by such fire department or emergency medical services agency. The amount paid into the Fund on his behalf from the general fund of the state treasury shall remain in the Fund and shall be deemed additional contributions made from the general fund of the state treasury. The amount paid into the Fund on his behalf from a local government shall remain in the Fund and shall be deemed additional contributions from such local government.

3. The provisions of this section shall not be construed to preclude any eligible volunteer firefighter or eligible volunteer emergency medical services personnel from completing the requisite number of years of active service, after attaining the age of 60, necessary to entitle him to the distribution provided for in § 51.1-1205.

4. If an eligible volunteer firefighter or eligible volunteer who is an individual who meets the definition of "emergency medical services personnel" in § 32.1-111.1 dies before a service award is otherwise paid to him under the provisions of this chapter and while he is an eligible volunteer, there shall be paid to his beneficiary an amount equal to the contributions he has made, the matching contributions made on his behalf, and any investment gains on such contributions less any losses. If an eligible volunteer firefighter or eligible volunteer emergency medical services personnel dies before a service award is otherwise paid to him under the provisions of this chapter and while he is no longer an eligible volunteer, there shall be paid to his beneficiary an amount equal to the amount paid into the Fund by the volunteer and any investment gains on that amount, less any losses. For purposes of this section, a member's beneficiary is the person or persons the member may name on a form prepared by the Board, signed by the member and filed in a manner prescribed by the Board. If there are no such persons, then his beneficiary shall be his spouse; if there is no spouse, then his living children equally; if there are no children, then his heirs-at-law as may be determined by the Board; or if there are no heirs, then his estate, if it is administered.

5. To any firefighter or emergency medical services personnel withdrawing from the Fund, upon proper application, all moneys he contributed to the Fund less any investment losses, and an administrative fee of $25.

1999, cc. 664, 860; 2001, c. 672; 2002, c. 349; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 51.1-1207. Determination of prior creditable service; information furnished by applicants for membership.

Any member with eligible service prior to the effective date of membership may purchase up to 10 years of such service upon certification of his fire department or emergency medical services agency. Such purchase shall be prorated at the rate of one year for every two years of eligible service. The cost of such service shall be an amount as established by the Board. Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter, the Board may grant qualified prior service credits to an eligible volunteer firefighter or eligible volunteer emergency medical services personnel, under such terms and conditions that the Board may adopt, if the Board determines that such volunteer has been denied such prior service credit through no fault of his own.

1999, cc. 664, 860; 2001, c. 672; 2002, c. 349; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 51.1-1208. Length of service not affected by serving in more than one department or agency; transfer from one department or agency to another.

The length of service of an eligible volunteer firefighter or eligible volunteer who is an individual who meets the definition of "emergency services personnel" in § 32.1-111.1 shall not be affected by the fact that he may have served with more than one department or agency, and upon transfer from one department or agency to another, notice of the fact shall be given to the Board.

1999, cc. 664, 860; 2015, cc. 502, 503.

§ 51.1-1209. Effect of member not maintaining eligibility and being six months delinquent in making monthly payments.

A. Any member who does not maintain his eligibility as a member and who becomes six months delinquent in making the required quarterly payments by the date as determined by the Board, shall forfeit his membership in the Fund. Upon forfeiting his membership and becoming delinquent, such membership shall be reinstated only upon written request to the Board, and such reinstatement shall be at the sole discretion of the Board.

B. Any member who ceases to maintain his eligibility while in good standing, but notifies the Board of his intention to resume eligibility shall be reinstated upon written request to the Board.

1999, cc. 664, 860.

§ 51.1-1210. Administrative fee for rejoining the Fund.

Any individual who had been a member of the Fund and who applies to rejoin the Fund shall not be entitled to membership until he has paid an administrative fee of twenty-five dollars. The Board shall elect to waive the twenty-five dollar fee for members reinstated pursuant to subsection B in § 51.1-1209.

1999, cc. 664, 860; 2002, c. 349.

§ 51.1-1211. Falsification of records; penalty.

Any person who knowingly makes any false statement or falsifies or permits the falsification of any record related to eligibility for membership in the Fund in any attempt to defraud the Fund shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

1999, cc. 664, 860.

The chapters of the acts of assembly referenced in the historical citation at the end of these sections may not constitute a comprehensive list of such chapters and may exclude chapters whose provisions have expired.

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