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AGO 1954 No. 275 - June 21, 1954
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Don Eastvold | 1953-1956 | Attorney General of Washington

CIVIL DEFENSE COMPENSATION ACT ‑- GOVERNMENTAL EMPLOYEES ‑- WHEN COVERED BY COMPENSATION PROVISIONS.

Employees of State Department of Civil Defense and employees of political subdivisions whose employment requires full or part time civil defense administration activity are covered by civil defense compensation provisions only during test exercises, actual emergencies and training as defined by section 4 of Civil Defense Department Regulation No. 2.

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                                                                   June 21, 1954

Honorable B. G. Lake
Department of Civil Defense
P.O. Box 519
Olympia, Washington                                                                                                  Cite as:  AGO 53-55 No. 275

Dear Sir:

            By letter, previously acknowledged, you requested our opinion upon the following question arising under the Washington State Civil Defense Compensation Act:

            "'Are employees of the State Department of Civil Defense and/or employees of the political subdivisions of the state engaged in full or part time civil defense administration covered under the Washington State Civil Defense Compensation Act during the course of their day to day Civil Defense activities.'"

            In our opinion the employees described are covered only during actual emergencies, during test exercises, and during training as defined by section 4 of State Department of Civil Defense Regulation No. 2.

             [[Orig. Op. Page 2]]

                                                                     ANALYSIS

            The Civil Defense Compensation Act in RCW 1953 Supp., chapter 38.52, derived from chapter 223, Laws of 1953, contains a fairly broad definition of "civil defense service."  See RCW 38.52.010 1953 Supp. and section 3, chapter 178, Laws of 1951, as referred to therein.  RCW 38.52.020 (1) (d) 1953 Supp., provides that the purpose of the act is to compensate civil defense workers for injury resulting from participation in civil defense service.

            However, it was apparently not the intention of the legislature to provide compensation for registered civil defense workers at all times; that is to say, the legislature has delegated to the department the power to determine those situations in which coverage will be necessary and appropriate.  Thus, RCW 38.52.310 1953 Supp. provides as follows:

            "The department of civil defense shall establish by rule and regulation various classes of civil defense workers, the scope of the duties of each class, and the conditions under which said workers shall be deemed to be on duty and covered by the provisions of this chapter.  The department shall also adopt rules and regulations prescribing the manner in which civil defense workers of each class are to be registered."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Because of the foregoing section we must examine the regulations of the department in order to discover whether or not the governmental employees described in your inquiry are covered during the course of their day to day civil defense activities.

            We have found no section of the regulation defining the times when such workers are "on duty and covered by the provisions of this chapter," under RCW 38.52.310 1953 Supp., supra.  The only regulation apparently referring to the cited section is section 5 of Regulation No. 2, which provides as follows:

            "Civil Defense workers shall be deemed to be on duty during training as outlined in section 4 of this regulation, during test exercises conducted in accordance with Regulation 1, and in actual emergencies when  [[Orig. Op. Page 3]] called to duty by authorized civil defense officials.  Civil Defense auxiliary police and auxiliary firemen are considered to be on civil defense duty when called to active service by their respective service chiefs with the approval of the local director of civil defense."  (Emphasis supplied)

            Section 3 of the regulation in subsections a through k sets out the classes of civil defense workers and the scope of the duties of each class, but contains no indication that the duties described therein of themselves place the particular worker within compensation coverage.

            Section 5, on the other hand, as quoted above, seems by comparison rather clearly to fix the period of compensable duty, in compliance with RCW 38.52.310 1953 Supp.  We do not believe that section 5 could be read merely to define "training" as previously defined in section 4.

            Notwithstanding the rather broad definition of civil defense activities given by RCW 38.52.010 1953 Supp., and the statement of intent made by RCW 38.52.020 (1) (d) 1953 Supp. we think the legislature recognized that the need for compensation would not necessarily be occasioned by all civil defense activities; but rather only by those which, in the judgment of the department, gave rise to actual risk of harm.

            We conclude that governmental employees whose positions require either full or part time work in civil defense administration are, like other civil defense employees, covered by the compensation provisions only during test exercises, actual emergencies, and training as defined by section 4 of Regulation No. 2.

            We sincerely hope the foregoing will be of assistance to you.

Very truly yours,

DON EASTVOLD
Attorney General

LLOYD G. BAKER
Assistant Attorney General

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