The mythical age of the dragons, warlocks and sorcers which made a large part of our childhood fantasies went away when we packed up our box of toys, put on our big person pants and trodded off into the adult world. However, some of us have had the extreme fortune of continuing on battling that fire-breathing dragon into our adulthood. Though we replaced the plastic sword and thin midieval suit of armour for a more accepted means of protection; the fire hose and bunker gear. We still get to rescue the damsel in distress and most importantly, save the community from the unforgiving modern-day dragon.
You can trace our firefighting roots in the United States back to 1630 in Boston. However the most prominent fire service member was none other than Benjamin Franklin, After a huge fire in Philadelphia in 1736, Franklin created a fire brigade called “The Union Fire Company” with 30 volunteers. The first full-fleded volunteer firefighter in America was Isaac Paschall. The idea of volunteer fire brigades gained popularity. These citizens were able to afford to purchase equipment and pay fines for missing meetings and fires.
The National Fire Service community has changed and improved since those humble beginnings. However, the art of fighting fires has only slightly changed. The greatest asset of any fire department is still it’s people. It doesn’t matter how big the equipment or level of protection, without people to put on that gear, drive that engine, educate the community about prevention etc. our modern communities would still be at great risk of the DRAGON.
The SW Division realizes how much we rely on the volunteer fire service community. But, the old saying is “you won’t miss it till it’s gone” We can not afford to leave this nationwide problem to chance. The I-Chiefs and Divisions work together to secure education, training, prevention tools, leadership and mentoring to our volunteers just as we do the career section. The legislation we fight for helps all fire service. Let’s keep this campaign alive and focus on growing our volunteer dragon slayers all over the country.
69% of firefighters in the country are volunteer.
Small towns (less than 10,000 population) rely on all volunteer departments
Some communities rely on a volunteer departments as their first line of defense for many types of emergencies besides fire
Hours of training required by a volunteer firefighter rivals that of a career firefighter. The requirement of 36 hours in 1980 has skyrocketed to a required 250 hours (requirements vary state to state)
The crisis of the volunteer fire service is not just a community problem.
If we don’t recruit, train, educate and retain the volunteers it will become a national crisis.. if it hasn’t already.
There will always be the need for municipal career fire departments. It’s a community service and the large cities attract more residents, who pay more taxes, who require more departments.
The volunteer is held to the same standards as a career firefighter. When you need a firefighter, you don’t call 911 and ask whether the dept is paid or volunteer, you’ll never know the difference. The quality of service is 99% the same with either.
After a long winter break, you can expect the buzz to begin in Washington as Congress hads back into session Jan 11 @ 2:00 pm. You will begin hearing both opponents and supporters of various legislative acts battling it out on why congress should or shouldn’t support the acts.
Current legislation (listed on the CFSI website)
- FIRE SPRINKLER INCENTIVE ACT
H.R. 3591 was introduced by Congressman Tom Reed (NY-23) on September 22, 2015.
S. 2068 was introduced by Senator Susan Collins (ME) on September 22, 2015.
Summary: The legislation amends the Internal Revenue Code of 1986 to include automated fire sprinkler systems as section 179 property and classify certain automated fire sprinkler systems as 15-year property for purposes of depreciation.
- JAMES ZADROGA 9/11 HEALTH AND COMPENSATION REAUTHORIZATION ACT
S. 928 was introduced on April 14, 2015 by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (NY).
H.R. 1786 was introduced on April 14, 2015 by Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (NY-12).
Summary: The legislation provides health care and economic compensation to those suffering from illness or injury due to the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks, as well as to the families of those who died since the attacks from related injuries.
- SAFE BUILDING CODES INCENTIVE ACT
H.R. 1748 was introduced on April 13, 2015 by Congressman Mario Diaz-Balart (FL-25).
Summary: The bill provides additional funding for post-disaster grants, under a program administered by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, to states that adopt and enforce state-wide building codes.
- PROTECTING VOLUNTEER FIREFIGHTERS AND EMERGENCY RESPONDERS ACT
S. 420 was introduced on February 20, 2015 by Senator Pat Toomey (PA).
H.R. 2658 was introduced on June 4, 2015 by Congressman Lou Barletta (PA-11).
Summary: The legislation ensures that volunteers are not counted as full-time employees under the shared responsibility requirements contained in the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.
- VOLUNTEER RESPONDER INCENTIVE PROTECTION ACT
S. 609 was introduced on February 27, 2015 by Senator Charles Schumer (NY).
Summary: The legislation exempts from federal income tax any property tax benefit and up to $600 per year of any other type of benefit that a state or local unit of government provides to volunteer emergency responders as a recruitment or retention incentive.
- VOLUNTEER EMERGENCY SERVICES RECRUITMENT AND RETENTION ACT
S. 616 was introduced on February 27, 2015 by Senator Susan Collins (ME).
H.R. 1171 was introduced on February 27, 2015 by Congressman Peter King (NY-2).
Summary: The legislation modifies the federal tax code to make it easier for fire departments and local governments to provide recruitment and retention incentive to volunteer emergency response personnel through length of service award programs (LOSAPs).
- FEDERAL FIREFIGHTERS FAIRNESS ACT
H.R. 1035 was introduced on February 24, 2015 by Congresswoman Lois Capps (CA-24).
Summary: The legislation amends federal law to create a rebuttable presumption that heart disease, lung disease, specified cancers and infectious diseases contracted by federal firefighters are job-related and contracted in the line-of-duty for purposes of worker’s compensation and disability retirement.
- FISCAL YEAR 2015 HOMELAND SECURITY APPROPRIATIONS ACT
H.R. 240 was introduced by Congressman Harold Rogers (KY-5) on January 9, 2015.
Summary: The bill makes appropriations for programs and activities of the Department of Homeland Security for Fiscal Year 2015.
The Congressional Fire Services Caucus is one of the largest caucuses in Congress. Founded by former Congressman Curt Weldon in 1987, the Caucus unites Republicans and Democrats in support of fire service legislation that benefit all first responders. Becoming a member does not require taking positions on legislation; rather Caucus members are asked to pledge support in a way that best benefits fire departments in their respective Congressional Districts.