Volunteer fire departments will not face a small business mandate under the Affordable Care Act as some feared, according to the Treasury Department.

The Treasury Department expects to issue final regulations soon that will exempt government-run and non-profit fire departments from having to count hours worked by volunteers in determining if they fall under the "employer shared responsibility" requirement, Assistant Secretary for Tax Policy Mark J. Mazur said Friday.

The Arkansas congressional delegation has co-sponsored legislation that would put the exemption into law after hearing concerns raised by rural fire departments that most small rural departments would close if they were required to provide health insurance to their volunteers.

"We think this guidance strikes the appropriate balance in the treatment provided to traditional full-time emergency responder employees, bona fide volunteers, and to our nation’s first responder units, many of which rely heavily on volunteers," Mazur said.