Collins aims to give communities tools to attract, retain volunteer first responders

Incentives and retirement benefits that communities use to attract and retain people to serve in volunteer public safety positions would be protected under legislation recently introduced by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins (R-ME).

Collins introduced two bills on May 25, the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act (VRIPA) and the Volunteer Firefighters’ Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) Cap Adjustment Priority Act to help communities attract volunteer firefighters and emergency medical service (EMS) workers.

“Across our nation, volunteer firefighters play a critical role in helping to ensure the safety of our communities and the well-being of our neighbors,” Collins, the chair of the Congressional Fire Services Caucus, said. “The state of Maine has approximately 11,000 firefighters, and more than 90 percent of those firefighters are volunteers.”

Communities would be able to provide volunteer firefighters and EMS workers up to $600 per year in property tax reductions or similar incentives without those benefits being subjected to federal taxes under VRIPA.

Meanwhile, the LOSAP Cap Act would increase the current cap on volunteer first responder retirement accounts to $6,000, and indexing future adjustments to inflation.

“Our bipartisan legislation would support towns that offer modest benefits to recruit and retain volunteers who help maintain public safety and protect those who serve our country with such bravery,” Collins said.

Collins introduced both bills with U.S. Sen. Ben Cardin (D-MD).