Legislation to increase firefighter retirement age advances

Legislation to increase the mandatory retirement age for firefighters has advanced to the state Senate. — Eunki Seonwoo

State Rep. Dylan Fernandes, D-Falmouth, announced in a press release that legislation he sponsored, titled “An Act authorizing Tisbury to modify fire department employment,” otherwise known as H.4622, passed in the Massachusetts House of Representatives. According to the release, this bill will “aid the Tisbury Fire Department’s crucial work” by changing the mandatory retirement age of firefighters, volunteer firefighters, and fire engineers from 65 to 70, “as long as an individual is physically fit to remain working.”

The release highlights the difficulty Tisbury has replacing professional firefighters, particularly since housing prices on the Island “continue to rise.” The release also points out that “the loss of highly trained and qualified firefighters” comes at not only a high financial cost but also results in the loss of experiential and institutional knowledge.

“The Tisbury Fire Department plays an essential role protecting and serving our community, but in a geographically isolated town with a high cost of living, it can be difficult to attract new recruits,” Fernandes said in the release. 

Extending the mandatory retirement age will provide the department more time to “find qualified new hires while continuing to provide excellent service to the town,” according to the release.

“The Tisbury Fire Department would like to express its appreciation to the Massachusetts House

of Representatives for passage of the fire department’s proposed home rule petition,” Tisbury Fire Chief Greg Leland said in the release. “On a small Island with a limited pool of volunteers, the ability to retain qualified and highly trained members who are able to pass on their years of institutional knowledge to the next generation of firefighters is extremely invaluable.”

This bill is now under consideration in the Senate.