Employers' Pensions and Benefits Administration Manual (EPBAM)
Winter 2003
   

 

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Municipal Volunteer Firefighters
Exempt Certificate and Conditions


Police and firefighters must meet stringent age criteria in order to be eligible for enrollment in the PFRS. Those who have passed their 35th birthday cannot be enrolled in the PFRS. Those over the age of 35 who are employees of the State or of a county can still be hired in PFRS titles but are enrolled in the PERS. However, State law prohibits the hiring of municipal police officers and fire fighters over age 35.

There are two exceptions for municipal firefighters:
N.J.S.A. 40A:14-44 allows individuals who are over age 35 in a "part-paid" fire department (some of the department's firefighters are paid, the others are volunteers), to be hired to paid positions up to age 40 as long as they served for at least two years as a volunteer in the same fire department immediately prior to the appointment. They are eligible for enrollment in the PERS, not the PFRS. See the PERS Enrollment Guide for instructions on enrolling these individuals into the PERS.

This link is intended to adress the second exception to the age limit for municipal firefighters. N.J.S.A 40A:14-56 allows individuals who are over age 35 in a "part-paid" fire department (some of the department's firefighters are paid, the others are volunteers) to be appointed to PFRS eligible positions, up to age 45, if they are able to obtain an "Exempt Firefighter Certificate". Obtaining the "Exempt Firefighter Certificate" requires such individuals to meet a number of conditions, which are listed below. Please note that individuals who qualify for this exemption are eligible for enrollment in the PERS, not PFRS. See the PERS Enrollment Guide for instructions on enrolling these individuals into the PERS.

Conditions Which Must Be Met by Municipal Volunteer Firefighters Who Are over Age 35, in Order to Be Granted an "Exempt Certificate"

  1. The fire department or force is composed of both paid and volunteer firefighters ("part-paid");
  2. The firefighter is not under age 18 or older than 45 years of age;
  3. The firefighter is of good moral character at the time of appointment;
  4. The firefighter performed as a volunteer firefighter for at least seven years in a department or force that employs paid firefighters;
  5. The firefighter participated in at least 60% of fire duty at the location.
  6. If a firefighter, otherwise eligible for an "exempt certificate", was unable to complete seven years of service due to injury or injuries that proved disabling, the firefighter may still be eligible for an "exempt certificate" if he or she had participated in 60% of fire duty over a period of five years.
  7. If a firefighter had service in more than one municipal fire department, and if the aggregate service (excluding concurrent service) totals seven years or more, the firefighter will be eligible for an "exempt certificate" from the department or force in the municipality in which he or she is participating at the time of becoming eligible. (NJSA 40A:14-56)

The "Exempt Firefighter Certificate" allows a volunteer firefighter over age 35 to be appointed to PFRS eligible positions in the municipality where he or she was a volunteer. The member is eligible to join the PERS upon appointment to the position.

The Exempt Firefighter Certificate
The following sample "Exempt Firefighter Certificate" represents the information each certificate must include.

EXEMPT FIREFIGHTER CERTIFICATE
It is hereby certified that ________________________, a member of the fire department and force, has qualified for and is entitled to this certificate of exemption pursuant to law.
Date of appointment ___________________________.

Date when member became entitled to exemption _________________________.

Record of prior service (if any)_______________________.

Date of issue _________________________.

______________________________________,
Official in charge of fire department and force

Attest:
________________________, (seal)
Municipal Clerk

___________________________,
Chief Executive Officer of Municipality
Filed in the Office of the Clerk of __________________________County
Date __________________


________________________________,
County Clerk

According to NJSA 40A: 14-59, when an "Exempt Firefighter Certificate" is issued, there must be four copies, which are to be given to:

  1. The New Jersey State Firemen's Association,
  2. The exempt firefighter's department to be kept as a permanent record,
  3. The firefighter, and;
  4. The county clerk of the county in which it is issued (within 60 days).

There can be no fee associated with issuing the certificate, and it must be signed by the official in charge of the fire department and force and the chief executive officer of the municipality. The municipal clerk must affix the municipal seal, attest the certificate, and ensure that the filing and delivery of copies are carried out.

 

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Last Updated: August 24, 2005