Bill designed to compensate volunteer firefighters is on House floor

JACKSON, Miss. (WCBI) – Over half of Mississippi’s firefighters respond to calls and risk their lives voluntarily.

Now, there is legislation on the House floor designed to compensate volunteer firemen and women to stay with their respective departments.

House Bill 521 authorizes the Mississippi Insurance Department to a “Length of Service Award Program” or LOSAP.

The program will provide financial incentives based on a point system to eligible volunteer firefighters.

Incentives include $500 each calendar year and $10,000 in a retirement contribution plus interest after 20 years.

State Fire Coordinator Brad Smith believes if the bill is passed, it will help retain firefighters for years to come.

“Well, if you look at the fire service across the state of Mississippi, about 70% of it is volunteer firefighters. We have somewhere in the neighborhood of 12,500 volunteers. About 9,000 of them are actually really active. And it’s just getting harder and harder nowadays to recruit somebody to give of their time freely like they had to go in and fight fires, make medical calls, respond to accidents. So this is something to hopefully incentivize them,” said Smith.

Fire officials said it is considered the most significant piece of fire service legislation since the passage of the Rural Firetruck Acquisition Assistance Program 25 years ago.

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Categories: State News