Fire fighter coming up a ladder at training

History of the Plan

History of the IAFF MERP & Governance

The IAFF Medical Expense Reimbursement Plan (MERP) was created in 1999 by the Washington State Council of Fire Fighters (WSCFF) to help address the problems faced by Washington fire fighters approaching retirement. With no mandated access to employer-sponsored healthcare, the MERP was developed to help members address the funding part of the retiree healthcare equation. Recognizing that other locals throughout the 7th District of the IAFF were facing similar challenges, the Plan was quickly expanded to Alaska, Idaho, and Montana.


IRS tax rules limited the geographical availability of the MERP to only fire fighter locals in the Pacific Northwest. In 2022, WSCFF solved this problem by partnering with the IAFF to rebrand the program as part of the IAFF Financial Corporation. The MERP’s affiliation with the IAFF opened Plan access to any publicly funded IAFF Local throughout the United States. In August 2023, the California Firefighters Benefit Trust was merged into the MERP adding several thousand more members and exciting new Plan provisions.

Today the IAFF MERP continues to be governed by fire fighter fiduciary Trustees with a team of
professional service providers. MERP is the largest non-profit Retiree Medical Trust in the country
having grown to more than 15,000 participating members and retirees from over 180 participating locals
across the United States. This growth is sure to continue as we hear from more and more locals looking
to provide superior benefits to their members and shore up fire fighter retiree healthcare financing

Ties to the IAFF Health & Wellness Trust

While the MERP helps address the funding of retiree healthcare, there’s still the healthcare access issue that so many of our members continue to struggle with: Where can I buy decent healthcare in retirement? In 2013, the WSCFF launched a standalone program called the Northwest Fire Fighters Benefits Trust (NWFFT) that enables Locals to bargain out of their employer’s health plan and into the Trust, which like the MERP, is completely governed by fire fighter Trustees from participating Locals. Through this program, active members of the Trust maintain eligibility to purchase fire fighter-focused non-Medicare and Medicare plans into retirement.

IAFF Health & Wellness Trust Logo

For more information on the IAFF Health & Wellness Trust visit