Team Effort Leads to Legislative Success for Professional Fire Fighters of Alabama

June 2 • 2021

Thanks to the Professional Fire Fighters of Alabama (PFFA) lobbying efforts, six of the state association’s legislative priorities passed with bipartisan support in the state legislature this year, leaving Alabama members more secure when it comes to cancer, behavioral health and retirement benefits.

“I want to congratulation the PFFA and its affiliates on a successful state legislative session. Thanks to their hard work, all Alabama members have better protections and benefits in place,” says 14th District Vice President Danny Todd. “This is what success looks like.”

“It truly is a team effort. Our affiliates work hard to maintain working relationships with their senators and representatives,” says PFFA President David Harer. “Because they have done their part, we were able to accomplish a lot this session with retirement benefit protections, cancer and peer support priorities.”

Three of legislative priorities were passed unanimously in the House and Senate, including legislation that says Alabama fire fighters no longer must have developed cancer while still on the job to be eligible for death and disability benefits. That eligibility window is now extended to 10 years after the last day of service.

The PFFA was also able to lobby for the unanimous support of legislation that changes existing laws to protect the families of FLC (fire fighters, law enforcement and corrections) employees in case of a fatality. Alabama FLC employees pay an extra 1% to the Retirement System of Alabama (RSA) for what is called stress time, which provides an extra one year of service credit for every five years on the job.

Previously, a fire fighter had to retire before the stress time was added to retirement benefits calculation. Now, if a fire fighter dies, the fire fighter’s family or beneficiaries will receive the retirement benefit with the stress time added in.

The PFFA also successfully lobbied for the unanimous passage of a law that allows Alabama Fire College to train and certify fire fighters in peer support. Previously, all certifications had to go through the Alabama Law Enforcement Agency. The peer support program is managed by Hoover Local 4035 member Toby Rigsby and Pelham Local 5049 member Jim Terrell, who have completed IAFF peer support training. About 100 people finished this program so far.

Meanwhile, the PFFA’s lobbying efforts also earned enough bipartisan support for the passage of legislation that adds $1 to all fire fighter vehicle license plate tags to support the Alabama fire fighter memorial and the new peer support system with the Alabama Fire College.

And the PFFA was also able to garner bi-partisan support for a new law to help stabilize the pension system for the City of Birmingham and another law that creates state funding for the Alabama Fire Fighter Annuity Fund. Any active fire fighter can join the annuity fund, which provides retirement, disability and death benefits to its members. Members must be active for 25 years to receive the full benefit.