Support for our Volunteer First Responders

Support for our Volunteer First Responders

Volunteer firefighters alone save communities of all sizes $129 billion a year, and represent 71% of all firefighters in the U.S. Of the total number of volunteer firefighters, 95% service communities with a population of 25,000 or less. Volunteer first responders provide the first line of defense for many types of emergencies, including fires, emergency medical incidents like the increasing number of opioid overdoses, natural disasters, terrorist events, and other public service calls. Recent reports, however, demonstrate that the number of volunteer firefighters has declined drastically due to difficulties in recruiting and retaining these essential volunteers. Reasonable financial incentives for volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel serve as important recruitment and retention tools for local emergency response departments who are struggling to meet the increased demand for their services.

NATaT has partnered with the National Volunteer Fire Council, Congressional Fire Services Institute, and the International Association of Fire Chiefs to advocate for federal incentives for volunteer firefighters and EMA personnel. These incentives are essential recruitment and retention tools for local emergency response departments who are struggling to meet the increased demand for their services.

A recent success was inclusion of the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act (VRIPA) as part of a federal funding bill signed into law in December 2020. VRIPA amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to exclude property tax benefits and up to $600 per year in other benefits provided to volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel from employment taxes and wage withholding. NATaT will be providing additional guidance to towns and townships to ensure volunteer departments take advantage of these new tax benefits.  (Note: these benefits were in law from 2007 to 2010).