NEW JERSEY – The Senate Community and Urban Affairs Committee voted to advance legislation today sponsored by Senator Christopher Connors, Assemblyman Brian Rumpf, and Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove that would support the financial needs of volunteer fire companies.
Under the 9th District Delegation’s legislation (S-3925), the “Volunteer Fire Company Assistance Program” would be established along with a special non-lapsing State fund that would receive an initial appropriation of $10 million to support the operations and sustainability of volunteer fire companies.
The concept for the Delegation’s legislation is strongly supported by the Borough of Pine Beach’s governing body.
The Delegation issued the following remarks, “Volunteer fire companies are in desperate need of a state level stable funding source, including to replace critical equipment needed to carry out their life-saving services. Given the public safety issues at play, this would be an effective use of taxpayer dollars to first and foremost support dedicated volunteer firefighters who, we cannot emphasize enough, save local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year by volunteering their time and expertise. We are pleased and grateful that our legislation gained bipartisan sponsorship during the Committee hearing as Senator Troy Singleton, who serves as Committee chair, requested to be added as a co-sponsor. Last but certainly not least, we want to recognize the tremendous efforts by the governing body of Pine Beach for bringing this proposal to our attention and providing background based on the operations of the Borough’s own volunteer fire department.”
Under the delegation’s legislation, the Director of the Division of Fire Safety would be required to develop and administer a grant program to annually distribute monies in the fund to volunteer fire companies in the form of grants to support the ongoing operations and sustainability of volunteer fire companies, including the purchasing of emergency equipment.
The Delegation’s identical Assembly companion bill (A-5570) is currently awaiting consideration by the Assembly Community Development and Affairs Committee.
Also, the 9th Delegation has introduced companion legislation, S-1697 and A-757, which would permit volunteer firefighters and first aid or rescue squad members to claim an additional exemption of $2,000 to be taken as a deduction from their gross income if they meet certain qualifications. In late June A-757 passed the Assembly unanimously and is awaiting consideration by the Senate.