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Home / WLF TheySaid / Boot Money for Temps?

  • 04/30/2015
  • TempFireGuy

Hello, I am sure many of you have heard the rumor that seasonal/temps will start getting boot money this year.  If its true, I have some questions about it:  1.) How much will be given to us , 2.) How often (I heard 1x every 3 years), and 3.) how will the program work/ how will we get the money (do you keep your receipt, is it automatic in our paychecks???)?  Thanks!

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  1. Wish my fellow employees would go union
    April 30, 2015 Reply

    As of right now, only the forests who are bargaining unit members will receive the reimbursement. If you work on a union forest then you will be reimbursed up to $300 every three years.

  2. Fruition
    April 30, 2015 Reply

    Have you tried asking your supervisor?

  3. Just angry
    April 30, 2015 Reply

    You think are supervisor will know the answers but most are to busy putting in cal fire apps.

    1. FancyApache
      May 1, 2015 Reply

      So true !!

  4. 5000
    May 1, 2015 Reply

    Employee Eligibility
    1. Who is covered by the Safety Boot Reimbursement policy?
    All eligible permanent and temporary employees are covered under the Safety Boot Reimbursement policy set out in FSH 6509.11k, Chapter 40, section 49, for covered reimbursements. This includes bargaining and non-bargaining unit employees, as well as supervisors and non-supervisors. For cost management purposes, certain groups of employees such as Administratively Determined (AD) employees, the Youth Conservation Corps (YCC), and volunteers are not eligible for reimbursement under this policy.
    2. If I am a new temporary or permanent employee, can I be reimbursed for boot purchases I make before my first day of work?
    No. New hires (whether permanent or temporary) who meet all eligibility criteria may be reimbursed for safety boot expenditures (purchase, re-soling, or refurbishing) if receipts are dated on or after the effective date of employment. Additionally, requests for reimbursement must be made within 45 days of the earliest date of any receipt(s) submitted for reimbursement.
    3. Is a temporary employee’s time cumulative by calendar year or does a temporary employee’s reimbursement eligibility time begin at the time of each rehire (i.e., on a yearly basis)? (Taking into consideration a temporary employee can be on-boarded and off-boarded from the Agency each calendar year.)
    Temporary employees are eligible for a one-time reimbursement up to $300 in a 3-year period regardless of how many times they are on-boarded and off-boarded with the Agency.
    4. If I am reading the boots MOU correctly, supervisors and seasonal employees who are not bargaining unit employees will not be eligible for the reimbursement?
    Employees identified in the answer to Q1 above are eligible for covered reimbursements under the Safety Boot Reimbursement policy set out in FSH 6509.11k, Chapter 40, section 49. This is regardless of whether or not they are on a unit covered by a Union.
    Note: The MOU with NFFE only lists bargaining unit employees because the Union may only negotiate on behalf of bargaining unit employees, and the MOU is an agreement between the Agency and NFFE. The Agency’s intent in setting forth the Safety Boot Reimbursement program was to ensure fairness and equity, and as such, extends the policy.
    5. Do all employees receive the benefits of the MOU (for instance, the Gallatin NF is not an organized unit)?
    Yes. The Safety Boot Reimbursement policy applies whether or not the employee is on an organized unit.
    6. What about fire militia who are not red-carded at the light, moderate, or arduous level? Are they covered under the fire or field option? If so, who pays, fire or field?
    Apply the 25% test from Q8. The supervisor determines the need as to field going or wildland fire safety equipment. The supervisor in conjunction with the safety code will determine the need for field or fire equipment; based on that, fire or field funding is selected.
    7. Why are some employees not eligible for the Forest Service Safety Boot Reimbursement program (e.g., AD and Casuals)?
    To manage the cost of the reimbursements, it was decided to limit reimbursements to permanent and temporary employees. While it is recognized that ADs and Casuals are an important and valuable resource they are not intended to be covered by the policy.
    8. My unit already has an agreement covering the purchase of safety boots and/or PPE, will it remain in place, which policy am I covered under, and how do I seek reimbursement?
    Until it expires, you are covered under your unit’s current agreement. You should seek reimbursement through your unit’s current process, through Miscellaneous Pay. The Safety Boot Reimbursement Module (SBRM) is based on the Forest Service Safety Boot Reimbursement program and will not apply to unit’s existing agreements. After your unit’s existing agreement expires, or is terminated early to transition to the Forest Service program, then only the SBRM shall be used. There shall be no new agreements separate from the Forest Service-wide program.
    9. While an employee is in non-pay status, can they purchase the boots with supervisor approval? If not, what if the receipt is dated before placed into pay status but within the 45 day limit for reimbursement?
    Please note that an employee must be in an active pay status to be able to submit the request. Therefore, yes, an employee in non-pay status can submit a receipt as long as it is within the 45 day limit for reimbursement.
    10.What is the recourse against an employee if they leave the Forest Service within 45 days of obtaining a reimbursement?
    If an employee is knowingly leaving the Agency within 45 days, Supervisors must not approve reimbursement without providing a written justification verifying the immediate need to incur the related safety boot expenditures. This additional requirement is due to the Supervisor’s responsibility to ensure payments are made to the proper recipient for the correct amount due and funds are used for their intended purpose in accordance with FSH 6509.11k Chapter 49. On-going audits will monitor for such potential misuse of funds.
    11.Who makes the decision as to whether or not an employee is eligible for the reimbursement?
    Eligibility is already determined and is described in the policy. It is the first-line supervisor’s responsibility to determine whether their employee(s) fall into one of the following categories.
    The following categories of employees are eligible:
    1) All employees with a light, moderate, or arduous work capacity test requirement for any position listed on their current Incident Qualification Card (red card).
    2) Any field-going employee who spends at least 25% of their time in the field. Exceptions to the 25% field requirement may be approved by the Local Line officer.
    12.How is the 25% of field time determined if your PD does not state the amount of field time or is it just an agreement between supervisor and employee?
    (Reference FSH 6509.11k, Chapter 40, Section 49.03) For field safety boots, permanent and temporary employees who spend at least 25% of their time performing field work that requires safety boots as identified through one or more of the following: (1) employee’s official position description, (2) FSH 6709.11, or (3) an approved Job Hazard Analysis, are eligible for the reimbursement. Exceptions to the 25% field work requirement for special projects or unique circumstances may be approved by the local Line Officer.
    13.How is the policy applied to part-time employees? (For example, if an employee is half-time, would they need to work half-time in the field to meet the 25% field-going requirement or do they still just need 25% of their working hours to be in the field?)
    They would need to spend 25% of their hours worked in the field. The amount of reimbursement is not pro-rated based on their tour.
    14.Are part-time employees eligible for the full $300 reimbursement?
    Yes. Part-time employees are eligible for reimbursement up to $300 as set forth under the Safety Boot Reimbursement policy.
    Expenditure Eligibility
    15.What kinds of expenditures are covered under the policy?
    An employee may be reimbursed for expenses such as, the purchase, re-soling, or refurbishing of required fire and field-going safety boots.
    16.What is considered refurbishing?
    “Refurbish” means to repair and make improvements to something; to rebuild or replenish with all new material; or to restore to original (or better) working order and appearance. Refurbishing, under the Safety Boot Reimbursement policy, does not include general maintenance.
    17.Can the supervisor determine whether an employee should purchase new boots or refurbish existing boots?
    No. The employee’s supervisor is responsible for validating the need, eligibility, and ensuring employees are properly outfitted to do the job.
    18.What exactly constitutes a “Safety Boot” as referenced in the policy and MOU between FS and NFFE?
    Fire and field-going safety boots are required for a job task identified on form FS-6700-7, Job Hazard Analysis, or described in the FSH 6709.11 – Forest Service Health and Safety Code Handbook, Section 72, Exhibit 01.
    19.How is a reimbursement different from a stipend or allowance?
    Definitions for each of the terms are as follows:
    Stipend – a fixed sum of money paid periodically for services or to defray expenses.
    Allowance – a share or portion allotted or granted; a sum granted as an allowance for bounty or for expenses; a sum regularly provided for personal or household expenses; or a fixed or available amount.
    Reimbursement – to pay back to someone; to repay, for example, travel expenses; or to make restoration or payment of an equivalent.
    20.Who owns the safety boots that are reimbursed under the policy, the government or the employee?
    The employee. Under the Safety Boot Reimbursement policy, the Forest Service is not changing the condition of employment and is not purchasing safety boots. The reimbursement is to defray the cost of the employee’s personal expense.
    21.Does the eligible employee have up to 3 years to spend their $300 reimbursement, or is it a one-time allowance?
    This is a one-time reimbursement up to $300 in a 3-year period. Employees must incur transaction cost and submit all receipts within forty-five (45) days of initial transaction. Employees are not eligible for a reimbursement related to safety boots until three (3) years after the first transaction is made.
    22.Can an employee do several reimbursements for lesser amounts instead of one for $300 dollars and can they spread their reimbursement over multiple years (e.g. one purchase per year of $100.00 up to three years)?
    No. As indicated in the policy set forth in FSH 6509.11k, Chapter 40, section 49, the Forest Service will pay a single reimbursement, in an amount up to $300, once every three years. An employee would only qualify for a single reimbursement action during the three year cycle.
    Therefore, an employee may submit a single reimbursement request in a three year cycle, that could be made up of a single or combined authorized expenditure, as long as the expenditures were incurred within the 45 days leading up to the reimbursement.
    23. In Alaska, some folks use 16 inch red rubber/neoprene boots for field work at a cost of approximately $100. The quality of the boots commonly used has gone down, and now employees could use a new pair of boots every year. How would employees seek reimbursement for their costs in this situation?
    To ensure that employees have the required safety boots, the supervisor and employee decide what actions are needed, whether new (adequately sturdy) boots should be purchased or current boots should be repaired. Regardless, the employee’s personal expenditures must all occur within 45 days of submitting a single request for reimbursement to be eligible to receive up to $300.00 under the Safety Boot Reimbursement policy.
    24.Regarding funding availability, has the Forest Service developed a process for employees to determine from their supervisor or budget officials that there is funding available before the employee makes a purchase?
    (Reference FSH 6509.11k, Chapter 40, Section 49.2) Units are to use local unit funds to finance all safety boot reimbursements. Eligible employees use Fire Preparedness funds (WFPR) for fire boots. For field boots, units are to use the program funds that match the employee’s resource project work. The policy also states that units may use established budgetary procedures to request additional funding as required, to manage the safety boot reimbursement program in a fair and equitable manner.
    25. I am assuming that the normal job code used by each employee or designated by supervisor or function budget staff would be the job code used to cover these reimbursements or is there a big sack of “Boot Bucks” that has been set aside with an earmarked job code for this reimbursement?
    (Reference FSH 6509.11k, Chapter 40, Section 49.2) No, there is no special “Boot Bucks” funding available to units for the safety boot reimbursements. Units are to use local unit funds to finance all safety boot reimbursements. They are to use WFPR for fire boots. For field boots, units are to use the program funds that match the employee’s resource project work. The policy also provides units to use established budgetary procedures to request additional funding as required, to manage the safety boot reimbursement program in a fair and equitable manner.
    26. If the boots are for field and fire can more than one job code be used?
    No. Only one job code can be used per set of boots.
    27. Is it correct to interpret that lack of available funds in the appropriate job code is not a reason to deny a request? That we must complete the reimbursement and request additional funds from the WO?
    The employee’s supervisor is responsible for validating the need, eligibility, and ensuring employees are properly outfitted to do the job. Units are to use established budgetary procedures to request additional funding as required, to manage the safety boot reimbursement program in a fair and equitable manner. The reimbursement should not be approved without funding.
    Reimbursement Process
    28.Will the Purchase Card Program have anything to do with this Safety Boot Reimbursement policy?
    No. The Safety Boot Reimbursement policy provides reimbursement to an employee for an eligible expense that the employee incurred. Initial expenditures must be made from an employee’s personal funds. Reimbursement procedures are set forth in FSH 6509.11k, Chapter 40, Section 49. Using any other payment mechanism, such as government purchase card, purchase order, ASC-B&F reimbursement, and so forth, is not authorized.
    29. If using any other payment mechanism is not authorized, what action should be taken if an employee uses an unauthorized payment method?
    Such payment requests will be refused unless there is advanced approval from the Chief Financial Officer. A supervisor should follow the standard Agency policies as outlined in FSH 6300 and in accordance with the Federal Acquisition Regulations (FAR).
    30.Will the Agency payment system have controls built in that ensure employees do not exceed the $300 limit in the three year period, so the burden to track this is not on the supervisor?
    Yes. We are working with HRM to ensure the Agency payment system is able to track these reimbursements agency-wide, without undue burden on the supervisor. We expect to be able to track the reimbursements whether the employee transfers from one unit to another or region to region, etc. The Agency payment system is our payroll system and therefore, similar controls already built in will apply to this process. Additionally, the audit controls are being addressed with the appropriate team member from the CFO/Audit and Assurance staff.
    31.What is the recourse against an employee if they decide to return the boots and retain the reimbursement?
    If a reimbursement or exchange is made and the employee obtains any partial or full refund of monies obtained under the Safety Boot Reimbursement Program and those monies are not returned to the Forest Service or immediately applied to an eligible expense under the Safety Boot Reimbursement program, the employee’s action may create an appearance of potential misuse of Federal funds. This may potentially lead to disciplinary and/or collection action.
    32. Is it expected that the negotiation of the Master Agreement, which will expire soon, will incorporate the principles of the referenced negotiated agreement and related directive?
    The Directive and the MOU are the guiding authority for the national safety boot reimbursement policy. The MOU is in effect through December 21, 2019. The Master Agreement has been extended for one more year. The decision regarding whether or not to incorporate the terms of the MOU into the next Master Agreement is a matter to be addressed by Management and NFFE during Master Agreement negotiations.
    33.What are the requirements for payment system controls and reports? How much help are the reports going to be for the first line supervisor and for program management?
    The following are requirements for payment system controls and reports:
    • An employee’s one-time safety boot reimbursement information is traceable service-wide, regardless of future job transfers. The report displays no personal identifiable information such as social security numbers.
    • The payment system preserves the date that a supervisor approved the request for the safety boot reimbursement. This is the key date that starts the three (3) year clock.

    1. techs672
      May 1, 2015 Reply

      Too late to do me any good, but it’s good news to finally get this in place Service-wide.
      A very informative post — any chance of duping it to the Hotlist for longer-term access?

  5. retired
    May 1, 2015 Reply

    Just Angry

    What Cal-Fire positions are open that the folks are applying for?

    1. FancyApache
      May 1, 2015 Reply

      I think that was more of a figure of speech.. I know many Capt. and below perms. that are looking else where. State Parks. County etc…

  6. Jon
    May 1, 2015 Reply

    Doesn’t matter if you’re fire or non-fire, union forest or non union forest, bargaining unit employee or supervisor/manager. One time expense every three years (so make it count) for boots. Trick for temp is to make sure your bill of sale shows a date on or after your report date. I think the boot companies and some smaller stores will work with you to make sure the date on the bill or sale will work. Some might not charge your card until a date you request.

  7. Brad
    May 6, 2015 Reply

    Temp Fire employees are covered for this reimbursement. $300 every 3 years. It started in January 2015 so if you bought boots after that date you are ok. Just have to wait until the Safety Boot Reimbursement Tool is up and Running. Yes, the plan is for the reimbursement to be used in Paycheck 8.

  8. Jon
    June 1, 2015 Reply

    Boot reimbursement is now live in temp and perm dashboards.

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