State Auditor Julie Blaha Releases Volunteer Fire Relief Association Financial and Investment Report - May 7, 2021

Contact: Donald McFarland | 651-236-0494

Saint Paul, MN – This week State Auditor Blaha released the 2019 Volunteer Fire Relief Association Financial and Investment Report.

“For many volunteer and paid-on-call firefighters, their primary compensation for putting their lives on the line is their relief association service pension,” said Auditor Blaha. “This report reminds us of the importance of Minnesota’s volunteer and paid-on-call firefighters.”

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 $636.2 million in net assets at the end of 2019, representing accrued benefits for 16,468 firefighters.
  • Relief associations received $23.8 million in state aid and $5.7 million in municipal contributions during 2019.
  • A total of $33.2 million in service pensions was paid out by 308 different relief associations in 2019.
  • The average lump sum benefit level for relief associations during 2019 was $2,030 per year of service.

To view the complete report, which includes an Executive Summary, graphs, and tables, click here.