House committee approves Farry bill to create service award program for volunteer firefighters

The bill is part of a package of legislation aimed to assist first responders across the Commonwealth

The House Veterans Affairs and Emergency Preparedness Committee recently reported out legislation authored by Rep. Frank Farry (R-Bucks) to expand the use of volunteer relief money to further support volunteer firefighters.

The bill is part of a package of legislation aimed to assist first responders across the Commonwealth.

“Our volunteer firefighters work tirelessly to protect our communities, the least we can do is assist them in any way possible,” Farry said. “My legislation would allow the state fire commissioner to work with individual fire companies to determine ways relief funds could be used to benefit the fire service. One of my ideas is to create a mini-retirement program.”

House Bill 1673 would allow for the creation of the Length of Service Award Program for volunteer firefighters to provide tax-deferred income benefits to active volunteer firefighters. In addition, the bill would expand the use of relief funds to include assistance and materials for recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters.

Farry co-authored and worked with prime sponsors on a range of first responder legislation that passed through committee, including bills that allow fire companies to bill for reasonable real costs, direct insurance reimbursement to EMS providers, development of online training for firefighters, and tuition assistance and loan forgiveness for first responders.