If a firefighter who works for the Village of Saugerties leaves work to fight a fire and is injured, he or she should be covered by firefighters’ disability, not the village’s, trustee Terry Parisian said at the Monday, August 1 meeting of the Village Board. Parisian said the village, unlike a private employer, must allow its workers who belong to fire companies to leave work to fight the fire. However, he said if they are injured, it is the fire department’s insurance that covers them, not the village’s, and that should be made explicit in the form of a local law or resolution.
The firefighters could be covered by the village’s policy, because “they left our work,” Parisian said. “We have to make sure that when they leave for a fire call, that they are clocked out and not covered by the village disability, but by the firemen’s disability.” Parisian cited an article in Municipal Matters magazine that said villages should explicitly pass a local law ensuring that the village’s insurance does not cover them when they leave work to fight a fire.
Trustee Brian Martin said firefighters are covered by separate insurance. Parisian said he is aware of the coverage, but wants to make sure that it is understood that employees who are also firefighters are definitely not covered by village insurance while fighting fires.
Parisian suggested that the board check with its attorney, Ben Neidel, as to whether the village has a policy regarding firefighters’ insurance.
“You could have a multi-million-dollar settlement, and then a taxpayer in the village is on the hook for years paying that settlement back. We have to have a delineation of ‘where is he,’ and they can’t push back,” Parisian said.