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Under State law, a volunteer fire relief association is nonprofit corporation separate from a city or town. It receives and manages public money to offer retirement benefits to those providing firefighting and emergency first response services.
Volunteer firefighter relief associations are governed by State Statute.
Coverage for volunteer firefighters in the state’s roughly 800 “firetowns” is provided by approximately 700 volunteer firefighter relief associations.
The Edina Firefighters Relief Association was formed in 1942.
The Association exists to pay benefits for disability, death or retirement of its members.
The Edina Firefighters Relief Association is funded by Fire State Aid from the State of Minnesota. The State funds Fire State Aid through a 2 percent tax on fire-related insurance. Current state law requires cities with fire relief associations to pass the entire amount of Fire State Aid received from the State to the fire relief association. The City of Edina does not contribute any additional funds to the Edina Firefighters Relief Association.
By law, the City of Edina serves as a “pass through” for Fire State Aid. State Fire Aid is paid to the City of Edina, which simply passes the money to the Edina Firefighters Relief Association. The City does not have any control over the money.
The Edina Firefighters Relief Association receives an average of $430,000 in Fire State Aid each year.
The City does not contribute any funds to the association.
The Edina Firefighters Relief Association has a defined-contribution plan. Members receive a lump-sum payment when they retire and request their distribution. Account balances vary from year to year based on amount of Fire State Aid received, investment performance, revenues and expenses of the association.
Employees hired as paid-on-call firefighters who meet the Edina Firefighters Relief Association’s membership requirements may join.
Full-time paramedic/firefighters may choose to be paid-on-call firefighters in addition to their full-time work. This is voluntary and to qualify for membership, firefighters must meet all requirements for membership outside of their full-time work.
The Edina Firefighters Relief Association has four classes of membership: active, retired, deferred and disabled firefighters.
Full-time employees who are also paid-on-call do not get paid twice, nor receive two pensions, for the same work. Unlike most local fire departments, the City of Edina operates an ambulance service. There is a clear separation between work performed as a full-time Paramedic/Firefighter and a paid-on-call Firefighter. Approximately 75-80 percent of the Edina Fire Department’s calls for service are for medical emergencies – not fires – and the majority of full-time work is performing medical response.
The Association has 45 active members.
All active members must respond to at least 20 percent of all off-duty general alarms. If at the end of a year, a member has failed to meet this level of response, he or she must respond to 25 percent of the off-duty general alarms during the next six months. If the response requirements are not met, the member loses service credit for the year. Failing this requirement two consecutive years results in the member being expelled and losing all benefits except those already vested.
The Edina Firefighters Relief Association’s Special Fund totaled $10.4 million as of September 2019.
The Edina Firefighters Relief Association is governed by a nine-member Board of Trustees. Six are elected from the membership: President, Vice President, Secretary, Treasurer and two Trustees. By State law, three trustees are municipal officials. The Edina City Council designates the municipal officers annually. Currently, they are the Mayor, Finance Director and Fire Chief.
The association’s investments are in the Minnesota State Board of Investment Stock Fund, Minnesota State Board of Investment Bond Fund and Metropolitan West Low Duration Bond Fund.
The Fire Department is just like any other department within the City. The City is in charge of determining the budget, staffing, equipment, training, work assignments, personnel policies, etc.
The Edina Firefighters Relief Association is a separate nonprofit entity. Under State law, a fire relief association is a nonprofit corporation that receives and manages public money to provide retirement benefits to those who perform firefighting and emergency response services for the affiliating city.
By law, three of the nine members of the Board of Trustees are appointed by the City.
The Edina Firefighters Relief Association has funded approximately 100 pensions since its inception in 1942.