Colorado Fire Chiefs Meeting Update

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Colorado Fire Chiefs Meeting Update

The following were the discussion topics regarding the CFH Trust at last week’s Colorado Fire Chiefs Meeting in Vail.

About the Trust

  • Trust Members own the Trust; we are a public entity under Colorado statute
    • Funds are not used to pay claims or administrative costs accrue to the Member’s equity and will be used for the benefit of Colorado firefighters.
  • Your Trustees are:
Don Lombardi – Trust Chair – Chief, West Metro Fire Protection District
Mike Rogers – Vice Chair – President, Colorado Professional Fire Fighters
Kammy Tinney – Trust Secretary – Board Secretary, Sable-Alturas Fire District
Matt Love – Trustee, – Chief, Cimarron Hills Fire Protection District
Matt Scheer – Trustee – Human Resource Manager, Lake Dillon Fire Protection District
John Bales – Trustee – Chief, Golden Fire Department
  • Trustees are your representatives and make all of the Trust’s policy decisions.
  • They are currently scheduled to meet 6 times annually to conduct business.
  • The Trust was established November 24, 2014 by five members who signed the Trust Agreement, nominated Trustees, held a member meeting, accepted appointment of Trustees, designated officers, approved vendors, adopted a budget and approved rates.
  • The initial planned Coverage Term was determined to be from January 1 to December 31.
  • On November 26, invoice worksheets were issued to some 200 known fire departments suspected of having at least 1 full-time firefighter.
  • We started receiving Trust payments December 10.
  • Around December 15 we were notified by members that our Fire Departments’ reimbursement applications were being rejected by DOLA due to the determination that DOLA would not reimburse for coverage periods outside the state’s fiscal year.
  • Trustees determined this to be a hardship for members, because departments would have to submit for reimbursement twice.
  • For the convenience of departments to be able to make a single annual reimbursement request to DOLA, the Trust voted on December 22, 2014 to change the coverage period to match the state’s fiscal year.
  • Looking at the Trust’s financial requirements, the Trustees determined that due to the Actuary’s loss projections and the liability limit of $250,000 for even one claim, along with the risk and financial need to capitalize the Trust, it was the same for the first coverage period regardless of the number of months in the coverage term.

Current Membership Figures

  • 86 fire operations organizations have joined the CFH Trust, representing nearly 2,900 firefighters.

Clarification of the DOLA Confusion

  • On May 1, DOLA sent a follow-up mailing to all fire operations who applied for reimbursement, causing major confusion.
  • The Trust Administrator met with DOLA to explain our position in order to clear up all issues and then provided a written explanation as well as the additional information DOLA requested.
  • In working through the issues with DOLA, we discovered that as of June 4 there were 20 Trust members who had not yet requested reimbursement. We worked with DOLA to determine who those members were and then sent the department chiefs an email with additional copies of the necessary documents required for reimbursement.
    • DOLA is also contacting these departments to offer assistance with the DOLA site login where needed.
    • Our understanding was that DOLA originally stipulated in the Filing Administrative Rules that departments had 90 days from the date of coverage to file for reimbursement, but we don’t see that in the legislation as a statutory limitation.

Moving Forward

  • The Trust’s first renewal is July 1, 2015 and will be at the same rates as January 1.
    • The Full-Time Firefighters rate is $175 each and is 100% reimbursable on July 1. Departments can submit application for reimbursement prior to this date, but checks will not be cut until July 1.
    • Renewing Volunteers and Part-Time Firefighters will receive a 12-month credit to get them on the new coverage year and to align with the state’s fiscal year without affecting department budgets.
  • The CFH Trust financials are on budget and our operating and expense ratios are below industry standards, which is very good.
    • Financial Ratios for Stability and Leverage are reasonable given our first coverage period.
    • 3 claims have been reported to date.
  • The July 1, renewal funding may help us purchase Reinsurance and Trustees’ Liability insurance, adding to our stability
  • Trustees are in agreement that coverage alone for firefighters is not enough. Preventing the line-of-duty heart incidents has to be the primary goal
  • The implementation of loss prevention and wellness programs to reduce line-of-duty incidents is mission critical.
  • Heart conditions identified during a heart evaluation not only saves lives but increase the financial security of the Trust by driving down future costs for fire departments and the state.

Looking Forward

  • The Trust’s goal is to work with the Colorado Professional Firefighters on future state funding legislation to include Volunteer Firefighters under the same funding umbrella and to extend to them the same statutory benefits in 2017.
  • After July 1, the Trust will institute a Heart Incident Loss Prevention program to include:
    • Financial commitment to provide the necessary equipment to CSU Heart Health and Wellness department working with Tiffany Lipsey to develop a lower cost Heart Assessment Program to include a portable 12-lead EKG with treadmill, equipment for necessary blood work, and Lifestyle Awareness Counseling to be available to any location in Colorado.
    • The Trust is allocating $50 per enrolled firefighter effective July 1 as a Heart Assessment Grant Fund allocation that will be apportioned to every Trust member to cover up to 50% of the cost for any enrolled firefighter’s heart assessment work.
  • To date, the CFH Trust is the only Heart Coverage Program that we are aware of that, 100% stand-alone, meets departments’ statutory “Legal Liability” established under CRS 29-5-302 including the cost to defend departments without departments incurring a $100,000 self-insured risk or gap in coverage.
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