Collins, Schumer Bill to Grow Volunteer Firefighters Passes

PORTLAND, Maine (AP) -

A U.S. Senate committee has passed a bill that senators from Maine and New York say will improve communities’ ability to recruit and keep volunteer firefighters and emergency workers.

Sens. Susan Collins (R-Maine) and Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.) say the bill will help stem the loss of volunteer first responders from local emergency-service departments. The number of volunteer firefighters in the country has declined by more than 40,000 over the past six years.

The provision will allow communities to give volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service personnel up to $600 per year in property-tax reductions. The senators say the change will help communities provide volunteers with benefits without fear of being audited by the Internal Revenue Service.