Connors, Rumpf & Gove Introduce Bill to Create Fund for Volunteer Fire Companies
9th District Delegation Bill Would Appropriate $10 Million for Volunteer Fire Company Fund
Senator Christopher Connors, Assemblyman Brian Rumpf, and Assemblywoman DiAnne Gove have introduced legislation to support the financial needs of volunteer fire companies. The 9th District delegation’s legislation would establish the “Volunteer Fire Company Assistance Program” 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 governing body of Waretown has also stated its support for the establishment of a fund to support volunteer fire companies.
The delegation issued the following remarks:
“Volunteer fire companies provide critical, life-saving services that communities across Ocean County rely on every day. It is also important to note that these dedicated firefighters save local taxpayers hundreds of thousands of dollars every year by volunteering their time and expertise.
“State regulations and financial strains can limit the ability of some municipalities to provide additional funding to volunteer fire companies such as for upgrading or replacing emergency equipment. Given the critical public safety issues at play, it’s time for the State to step up with a dedicated funding source to ensure volunteer fire companies are properly equipped to effectively carry out their serious responsibilities.
“Last, but certainly not least, we want to thank 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 9th District delegation has also 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 $5,000 to be taken as a deduction from their gross income if they meet certain qualifications.