Davis: New law should help attract, retain volunteer firefighters, EMS

LEVITTOWN, Jan. 20 – A new law passed by the General Assembly last session will help municipalities retain dwindling numbers of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders, said state Rep. Tina Davis, who voted for it.

Act 172 of 2016 allows municipalities to grant tax credits on Earned Income and property taxes to active volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service volunteers.

The tax credit can be up to 20 percent of the volunteer's tax liability.

“This is a great opportunity to not only say thank you to those who volunteer and put themselves in harm’s way for others, but to attract and recruit more volunteers,” said Davis, D-Bucks. “Our ranks of volunteer first responders have been steadily decreasing, and we need to be doing more to reverse this trend.

“Volunteer fire departments and EMS organizations save Pennsylvania taxpayers nearly $10 billion each year.”

Municipalities may base the credit on the number of calls a volunteer responds to; the volunteer's level of participation in training; or time spent on fundraising, equipment maintenance and other functions.

Local officials say the hours required for training, responding to incidents and raising funds keep potential volunteers away. The number of volunteer firefighters in Pennsylvania has dropped from 300,000 in 1977 to about 50,000 today.