AL lawmaker proposes income tax credit for volunteer firefighters, rescue squad members

Article by Michael Clark at CBS 42.


MONTEVALLO, Ala. (WIAT) — An Alabama lawmaker from Shelby County is proposing an income tax credit for volunteer firefighters and rescue squad members in hopes of recruiting more first responders.
Rep. Russell Bedsole introduced HB 253 this week.

“Estimates across our state have that there is roughly 1,000 volunteer fire departments that are serving about 2 million of our state residents,” said Rep. Bedsole.

While paid, full-time firefighters also put it all on the line, the costs for volunteer crews can often come out of pocket.

“Our volunteers use their gas, their vehicles, their vehicle maintenance, everything going to and from the station when we have calls,” said Montevallo Volunteer Fire Chief Brad Davis.

Most of the volunteers also work full-time jobs and have to clock out once they’re paged out.

“You do have some that will take off to go run the call and at that point, they aren’t getting paid by their other job so it’s a sacrifice at that point,” said Davis.

Since the state saves money by not paying benefits to volunteers, Bedsole wants to see an income tax credit.

Under his plan, there would be requirements to receive the money. A basic certification for a firefighter would bring back up to $300.

A more advanced certification could bring up to $600.

“It is going to require these men and women, not only serving, but they are active in their local agency, that they’re training with them and there is going to be some documentation of training hours so the community is seeing a benefit from these men and women who are serving and then the individuals are receiving that tax incentive,” said Bedsole.

If lawmakers pass the bill, leaders hope more people will consider stepping up to respond when seconds count.

“Recruiting the volunteers at this point is very hard, there’s not as many people wanting to volunteer as there were 20 years ago,” said Davis.

According to Rep. Bedsole, the money would come from the state’s education trust fund budget. He plans to get with other lawmakers to go over specifics and to make sure the proposal does not pull dollars from schools in need.

To read more about HB 253, click here.


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