Friday, 18 September 2009 00:00
The residents of Mineola passed a referendum last week that changes the qualifications for the Length of Service Awards Program (LOSAP) for the Mineola Fire Department.
LOSAP is a program that monetarily awards firefighters for their length of service to the community. The referendum passed overwhelmingly with over 80 percent voting in favor of it.
The original LOSAP that was put in place after residents approved it via referendum in 1990 allowed firefighters to earn $20 per month for each year of credited service up to a maximum of 40 years. The maximum benefit available to a firefighter with 40 years of service at age 60 is $800 per month.
It was determined that the LOSAP program the Village of Mineola had in place since 1990 proved to be discriminatory against age. Under that program, firefighters were not able to accumulate any credit past the age of 60, even though the Mineola Fire Department had some members over the age of 60 who were still active in the department.
In order to change the program, the mayor and the village board put the change in front of voters in last week’s referendum. Voters elected to adopt a new LOSAP, which provides no age restrictions, meaning firefighters can accumulate credits toward the award past the age of 60.
The Mineola Fire Department has a family tradition in which family members sometimes follow in the footsteps of family members who have also served. The LOSAP program is an incentive to attract new members and retain the current ones the department has. Retaining and attracting new members is crucial for a volunteer fire department.