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For Immediate Release
March 26, 2020

Contact: Donald McFarland
Phone: 651-236-0494

Saint Paul, MN – “During these times of unprecedented uncertainty, the Office of the State Auditor continues to serve the people of Minnesota,” said Auditor Blaha. “I want to celebrate the resiliency of our staff as they work from home. We are doing our part and staying home.”

Earlier today, State Auditor Blaha released the 2018 Volunteer Fire Relief Association Financial and Investment Report.

“We would like to take a moment and explain what relief associations are and why they are so important to firefighters and the fire service community in Minnesota,” Blaha added.

A volunteer fire relief association is a governmental entity that receives and manages public money to provide retirement benefits to firefighters and first responders. The relief association is a separate entity from its affiliated city or town fire department, and is governed by its own board of trustees. Relief associations have various reporting requirements with the Office of the State Auditor as well as other state and federal agencies, and qualify to receive state aid based on the completion of these annual reports.

Most firefighters in Minnesota are volunteer or paid-on-call firefighters, and perform this essential public service while also having separate full-time jobs. Relief associations pay retirement benefits to these firefighter after they have completed a minimum length of fire department service and have met additional minimum requirements. Relief association service pensions are an important tool to help recruit and retain firefighters in Minnesota and reward them for their service to their local communities.

Some highlights from the report include:

  • Relief associations held $553.6 million in net assets at the end of 2018, representing accrued benefits for 16,857 firefighters.
  • Relief associations received $23.7 million in state aid and $6.2 million in municipal contributions during 2018.
  • A total of $37.3 million in service pensions was paid out by 333 different relief associations in 2018.
  • The average benefit level for relief associations during 2018 was $1,935 per year of service.

To view the complete report, which includes an Executive Summary, graphs, and tables, go to: https://www.auditor.state.mn.us/default.aspx?page=20200326.000

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The Office of the State Auditor is the constitutional office that oversees nearly $40 billion in local government finances for Minnesota taxpayers. The Office of the State Auditor helps to ensure financial integrity and accountability in local government financial activities. Julie Blaha is Minnesota’s 19thState Auditor. Follow us on Twitter @MNStateAuditor.

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