Stockton voters to decide whether to reward volunteers

The program gives rescue and fire company personnel "points" that could translate into as much as $400 annually to a deferred income account similar to a 401(k).

By: Brooke Olster
   STOCKTON — As sirens sounded throughout Monday’s council meeting, those present could not forget the importance of rescue workers.
   The Borough Council unanimously approved an ordinance allowing residents of the borough to vote on a new service-reward program proposed for their volunteer firefighters and rescue workers.
   The Length of Service Awards Program, commonly known as LOSAP, is designed to attract more volunteers as well as to keep current volunteers active. It provides fixed monetary rewards annually to a deferred income account similar to a 401(k).
   Rescue workers in the borough are scarce, and offering LOSAP is a matter of "enlightened self-interest," according to Mayor Gregg Rackin.
   "It is very troubling that the Stockton Fire Company and Rescue Squad has encountered difficulties in responding to calls between 9 and 5 during weekdays," Mayor Rackin said. "This is a problem."
   He added, "We can only hope that the small amount of $400 per volunteer annually who meets the requirements of service will help to correct this."
   By voting in a rewards program for volunteers, the mayor said, "We are helping our firefighters, we are helping our rescue squad, but we are also helping ourselves."
   To qualify for $400 a year, volunteers must meet criteria specified by the proposed ordinance. They will have to accumulate 100 points a year with different activities worth varying amounts of points.
   For example, 75 points would be awarded for responding to more than 60 percent of fire or rescue calls. No points would be earned for responding to 20 percent or fewer calls. Responding to between 21 and 30 percent of calls would earn 25 points. From 31 to 40 percent would earn 35 points. From 41 to 50 percent would net 45 points, and from 51 to 60 percent would earn 55 points.
   Drills would net a volunteer two points per drill with a maximum of 20 points. Training would offer another opportunity to accumulate points with courses under 20 hours worth five points, courses between 20 and 45 hours worth 10 points, and courses totaling more than 45 hours worth 15 points.
   Other activities also could be used to accumulate qualifying points. For example, participation in educational programs at Stockton Elementary School would earn five points, while another five points could be earned by participating in the borough’s Memorial Day program.
   "At the end of the day, we must remember that the volunteers of the Stockton Fire Company and Rescue Squad willingly put their lives on the line to be there for the rest of us should we need them," Mayor Rackin said.