State Lawmaker: ObamaCare Won't Impact OK Volunteer Firefighters - NewsOn6.com - Tulsa, OK - News, Weather, Video and Sports - KOTV.com |

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State Lawmaker: ObamaCare Won't Impact Future Of OK Volunteer Fire Departments

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National media outlets are reporting if volunteer departments do not provide health insurance to most volunteer firefighters, they won't be able to stay on the job. National media outlets are reporting if volunteer departments do not provide health insurance to most volunteer firefighters, they won't be able to stay on the job.
OKLAHOMA CITY -

There are concerns a portion of ObamaCare could put our safety at risk by forcing the closure of fire departments across Oklahoma.

National media outlets are reporting if volunteer departments do not provide health insurance to most volunteer firefighters, they won't be able to stay on the job.

Seventy-five-percent of Oklahoma firefighters are volunteers.

"It's a big concern. I mean, if it does become a mandate, yeah, it's going to hurt the citizens of the public," said Chief Perry Wenzel, Grady County Fire Dept.

Chief Wenzel oversees 12 volunteer fire stations throughout Grady county. Two hundred and thirty volunteer firefighters cover 1,250 square miles in Grady county alone.

"The volunteers cannot afford this, they're just barely making ends meet right now the way it is," Chief Wenzel said.

The concern for Chief Wenzel is the people of Grady county.

"We're going to lose lives because we're not there to protect the lives, the property and the citizens of the state of Oklahoma," Wenzel said.

"We're just not going to be able to afford it and continue to operate the way we do," said Grady County Fire District Chief, Buddy Myers.

National media outlets report if you're on the job more than 30 hours per week, then you're required to follow ObamaCare's employee mandate-rules.

State Representative David Perryman says that rule doesn't apply here.

"They're not employees, they are volunteers," Rep. Perryman said.

According to the Fair Labor Standards Act and the IRS, Rep. Perryman says volunteer firefighters are not classified as employees.

"It has no legitimacy, no basis whatsoever, and will not affect rural fire protection," Rep. Perryman said.

Chief Wenzel says most volunteer firefighters work day to day jobs, and are on-call 24-hours a day, seven days a week.

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