The Affordable Care Act could affect volunteer fire departments

Many businesses are working to understand the Affordable Care Act. Now, volunteer fire departments might be doing the same thing.

The difference between the U.S. Department of Labor's definition of volunteer and the definition of the Internal Revenue Service is causing issues.

The U.S. Department of Labor takes the literal definition of volunteer. On the other hand, the IRS defines an employee as anyone that works more than 30 hours a week. Therefore, fire departments that employ more than 50 people (volunteers and employees) are subject to the Affordable Care Act.

A bill that was introduces asks Congress to exempt emergency service volunteers from being considered full-time employees.

Richard Walton with NC&W, said by definition, volunteer fire departments should not be subject to the Affordable Care Act.

"Being an employee means you're receiving a wage from your employer. [Volunteer fire departments] probably don't meet that test, but the individual people, the volunteers, still have an obligation to have insurance coverage as the individual mandate," Walton said.