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Levan Izoria, Deputy Minister of Internal Affairs of Georgia, presented a bill on public safety at the plenary session of the Georgian Parliament on 2 April 2014. During the discussions he stated the following: "Since 2004, officers, who worked at the Fire Safety Office had no longer been considered as the employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and had not been enjoying the benefits provided by the social security system for its employees. We will restore this for them."

FactCheck

took interest in this issue and verified the accuracy of Levan Izoria’s statement.

Until 2004, the State Fire Service was a structural unit of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and its status was defined by the regulation of the Ministry which was regulated by the Law on Fire Safety.

The Georgian Parliament made amendments to the Law on Fire Safety on 29 December 2004. According to these amendments, the State Fire Service of the Ministry of Internal Affairs had until 1 April 2005 had to give local self-government bodies its subordinated fire and rescue units created for the purposes of protecting against fire, fire equipment and other property as well as the functions of activities related to fire prevention, extinguishing fires, emergency and rescue operations and staff. According to these changes, local self-government bodies became responsible for their own fire protection.

After giving fire protection to local self-government bodies, the firefighters of the Ministry of Internal Affairs who fell under the jurisdiction of the local self-government bodies were not considered as employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. Accordingly, the Ministry stopped counting their years of service.

According to the amendments made to the Law on Public Safety (which was approved by the Parliament with its third hearing) presented at the Parliament, all levels of fire and rescue services will still be subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

In order to verify the issue we contacted the Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to the information received, the Ministry will continue counting years of service for those officers who worked for the Fire Safety Office and who were not considered as employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs. This will have a direct influence upon their wage rate (will increase in proportion to the length of service) and pensions. Specifically, personnel of the Ministry of Internal Affairs who have served 20 or more years under special and military rank will be given the right to state compensation which will be defined from GEL 350-550.

As for the last ten-year period when this abovementioned service did not belong to the Ministry of Internal Affairs, this period of service was not compensated. Officers’ ranks will be restored to those individuals in the current year and their years of service will be counted without including the last ten years.

Conclusion

According to the amendments made to the Law on Fire Safety at the end of 2004, the Fire Service became subordinated to local self-government bodies. Therefore, those officers who worked for the Fire Safety Office were not considered as employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and were not using the benefits of the social security system available to Ministry staff. This amendment came into force in 2005.

According to the amendments made to the Law on Public Safety (which was approved by the Parliament with its third hearing) presented at the Georgian Parliament, all levels of fire and rescue services will still be subordinated to the Ministry of Internal Affairs. According to this bill, they will continue counting years of office for those officers who worked for the Fire Safety Office and were not considered as employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and, accordingly, these officers will enjoy the benefits provided by the law.

According to the abovementioned information, FactCheck concludes that Levan Izoria’s statement, "Since 2004, officers, who worked at the Fire Safety Office had no longer been considered as employees of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and had not been enjoying the benefits provided by the social security system for its employees. We will restore this for them", is TRUE.