OKLAHOMA CITY – Legislation to eliminate the current age limit of 45 for new volunteer firefighters was signed into law by Gov. Mary Fallin.
House Bill 2005 author Rep. Mike Sanders said the age limit was put in place to address a pension dilemma. In order for the pension system to work, new enrollees must be under a certain age. His legislation gives potential volunteers the option to join without a pension if they are above that age.
“My intent is to expand the volunteer firefighter base so that we can reverse the current trend of declining volunteers,” said Sanders, R-Kingfisher. “Current law bars willing volunteer firefighters above the age of 45 because the pension system could not afford them. I asked a few of my constituents who were above the age of 45 and interested in volunteering about whether or not they needed a pension. They said they already had pensions. They were looking to serve and didn’t need to be part of the pension system.”
Sanders said in researching the bill he learned of a nationwide and statewide decrease in the number of volunteer firefighters.
“The number of volunteer firefighters are declining and we should remove this unnecessary barrier to their critical service to our rural communities,” Sanders said.
The legislation was approved by a vote of 32-13 in the Oklahoma Senate and previously approved unanimously in the Oklahoma House of Representatives.
The new law will take effect Nov. 1.