Volunteer firemen responding to a call into another state are under the protection of the Volunteer Firemen's Relief and Pension Act.
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December 26, 1950
Mr. J. R. Cook
Firemen's Training Program
State Board of Vocational Education
521 1/2 North 73rd Street
Seattle 3, Washington Cite as: AGO 49-51 No. 403
Receipt is acknowledged of your letter of December 4, 1950, in which you inquire whether the Volunteer Firemen's Relief and Pension Act would cover members of a volunteer fire department who might be sent into the State of Oregon to answer a call pursuant to a Mutual Aid Agreement which might be entered into by municipalities of the two states.
It is our conclusion that regularly enrolled volunteer firemen going into another state pursuant to a call would be within the Volunteer Firemen's Relief and Pension Act.
The Washington Volunteer Firemen's Relief and Pension Act is set up under the provisions of chapter 261, Laws of 1945 (§ 9578-15 to 9578-39 Rem. 1945 Supp.). In section 15 (§ 9578-29 Rem. 1945 Supp.) it is provided that volunteer firemen are entitled to benefits under the act when disabled or sick "in consequence of, or as the result of the performance of his duties as in this act defined." Under section 16 benefits are to be paid where a volunteer fireman dies as a result of injuries received or sickness contracted while in the performance of his duties as therein defined. Performance of duty is defined in Section 1 of the act as follows:
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"'Performance of duty' shall be defined and construed to mean and include any work in and about company quarters or any fire station or any other place under the direction or general orders of the chief or other officer having authority to so order such member to perform such work, shall mean and include responding to, working at, or returning from an alarm of fire, drill or any work performed of an emergency nature in accordance with the rules and regulations of said fire department."
This office has previously held in an opinion to the State Auditor dated December 9, 1946, that a fireman responding to a call and working under the direction of the chief was entitled to the protection of the Firemen's Relief and Pension Act whether or not the call was one strictly within the type of service that the fire department was organized to perform. Consistent with the reasoning of that opinion we believe that firemen entering another state pursuant to a call and acting under the direction of the chief would be within the protection of the Volunteer Firemen's Relief and Pension Act. We express no opinion at this time as to whether the fire department might properly answer calls in another state, the scope of this opinion being limited to our determination that if firemen are sent into another state by the fire department, whether properly or not, they are nevertheless protected by the Firemen's Relief and Pension Act.
Very truly yours,
LYLE L. IVERSEN
Assistant Attorney General