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Benefits Change Approved

On June 3, residents in the South Farmingdale Fire District voted 52-0 to change the department’s existing Length of Service Award Program [LOSAP] for eligible volunteer firefighters. 


As the first fire district on Long Island to have the switch approved by voter referendum, South Farmingdale will freeze LOSAP service credits for eligible volunteers, effective Jan. 1, 2015, and transition from its current defined benefit program to a defined contribution system.


Under the current defined benefit program, volunteers become eligible at age 62 to collect LOSAP benefits of $20 a month for each year of service, to a maximum of $600 per month after 30 years of service credit. 


A result of the voter-approved referendum, active volunteer firefighters will not be able to
earn additional service credit in this program after calendar year 2014. 


Instead, a new program will allow up to $700 a year to be contributed into an investment account for eligible volunteers. 


“On behalf of the Board of Fire Commissioners we would like to thank the voters for supporting firefighters in our district and for leaving us in excellent financial shape,” said South Farmingdale Fire Commissioner Thomas Mastakouris.


Mastakouris added that while he would have preferred a higher voter turnout, he was elated to see that there were no “no” votes cast in Tuesday’s elections.


Since 1990, fire districts in New York State have been able to establish service award programs for their volunteer firefighters. South Farmingdale first adopted the program on Jan. 1, 1991, with the intention of using it to help recruit and retain active volunteer firefighters.


Originally planning to spend $160,000 towards LOSAP awards this year, Mastakouris said that the Board of Fire Commissioners will review its spending plan and is determined to show residents that the switch to a “defined contribution” plan will only cost $50,000 a year—saving the department $110,000 annually towards their budget, which they hope to use to purchase a new ladder truck in the future.