The Senate Finance Committee today unanimously approved legislation sponsored by Senator Pat Stefano (R-32) that would provide financial assistance to volunteer firefighters and EMTs.
Senate Bill 594 would exempt firefighters from paying the sales and use tax when purchasing protective equipment and accessory communications equipment using their own personal funds.
He said the cost of a firefighter’s protective equipment alone can cost them up to $2,500 out of pocket. And according to recent statistics, more than 51,000 Pennsylvania firefighters – approximately 86 percent — spend personal funds on equipment they use to protect communities.
“Firefighters who put their lives on the line as volunteers and pay for their own supplies, deserve this exemption on supplies that they need to do their jobs safely and effectively,” Stefano said. “It is no wonder that retention rates are going down because volunteers have to spend so much money out of pocket. This bill will help to ease the financial burden they face.”
Stefano said the legislation is one of several measure that he is sponsoring to provide incentives to help recruit and retain volunteer firefighters and EMTs. He said the number of volunteers has dropped from 300,000 to roughly 60,000 in the last 30 years.
“In recent years, Pennsylvania has seen a steady decrease in the number of volunteer firefighters because of the high costs and the time involved in fund-raising activities,” Stefano said. “This bill provide them with assistance in paying for supplies and equipment, so they can focus on protecting our communities and spend less time on fundraising.”
CONTACT: Ben Wren (717) 787-7175