Any time a firefighter or reserve officer covered under the relief provisions of the Volunteer Firefighters’ and Reserve Officers’ Relief and Pension Act is injured in the performance of duty, a written report of the accident must reach the State Board within ninety days. Performance of duty is defined by state law as "any work in and about company quarters, any fire station, any law enforcement office or precinct, or any other place under the direction or general orders of the chief or other officer having authority to order such member to perform such work; responding to, working at, or returning from an alarm or fire, emergency call, or law enforcement duties; drill or training; or any work performed of an emergency nature in accordance with the rules and regulations of the fire department or local law enforcement agency." Accident report post cards are provided by the State Board to facilitate meeting the reporting requirement and should be completed and mailed for any injury, no matter how minor it appears. The first claim for any accident must be received by the State Board within one year of the incident or the claim is legally closed.
If claims for payment of medical bills and/or disability compensation are to be made, the Report of Accident form #5580 must be completed and returned to the State Board. Please take care to see that all sections of the form are completed. A copy of the emergency room report signed by the doctor may be attached in place of the doctor’s report.
All bills arising from an accident should be sent by the claimant to the Local Board of Trustees for the preparation of State of Washington Invoice Vouchers by the secretary of the local board. Vouchers must be prepared for each vendor or claimant, but several bills from the same claimant may be processed on one voucher. The name and address of the person or firm to be paid, goes in the box at top left. The name of the member or members on whose behalf the claims are made should be written on the member line and the itemized bills should be attached. If a member personally pays the physician, etc., for services rendered and then requests reimbursement from the State Board, his or her name, as payee, will go in the box at the top left. In this case, proof of payment as well as an itemized statement of services rendered must be attached to the vouchers. The secretary will need to obtain the signature and tax identification number of the person named in the payee box and the approval of the Local Board of Trustees, as shown by the signatures of the chair and secretary. If an original medical billing is attached to the voucher, the signature of the representative of that medical facility need not be obtained. After approval is obtained and bills are attached, the vouchers should be sent to the State Board for payment.
The State Board is required by law to pay for physicians’ services at a rate not to exceed the Department of Labor and Industries’ fee schedule, and the providers will accept this as full payment. However, if a member pays his or her own bills and asks for reimbursement, she or he will be reimbursed only for the portion that the State Board is allowed to pay. Therefore, it is in the best interest of the member to have bills sent to the secretary of the local board for direct payment to the provider of the services.
State of Washington Invoice Vouchers must also be prepared for payment of disability compensation to an injured member. Disability compensation is provided for any member who, as a result of an injury in the performance of duty, is unable to work at his or her regular job or occupation for a period not to exceed six months. In 1995 the legislature gave the local board additional responsibilities to determine the amount of disability compensation, which is not to exceed the amount of loss.
If after six months the injured member is unable to work at any job as a result of his or her injury, disability compensation computed at a different rate may be authorized. In preparing vouchers for disability compensation, the member is the payee whose name appears in the box at the top left side and he or she must sign in the top signature box. The description section should list the dates for which compensation is requested and the amount granted. Please attach documentation of regular wages to the first such disability claim for any injured member and secure the approval of the local board of trustees.
If an injured member sustains a permanent partial disability as a result of an accident, she or he may contact the State Board for an examination to determine the extent of disability. A permanent partial disability settlement will be offered according to the report of an independent examining physician or panel in accordance with tables adopted by the Department of Labor and Industries.
The State Board will reimburse for mileage traveled for treatment outside the members’ home area. Reimbursement is accomplished by completion of an invoice voucher payable to the member. Please include dates of travel, destination and miles traveled. Bills for services will be used to document this claim.
If a member is killed during the performance of duty, death and funeral benefits as well as a survivors’ pension for the spouse and/or surviving dependent children are provided. The State Board should be contacted immediately so that the claim can be processed as quickly as possible.
An injured member can appeal the decision of the State Board staff by following WAC 491-04. The local board cannot appeal for them. An attorney may represent the injured member but legal representation is not required.