Proposed fire tax could ease strain on volunteer departments

Written by Tim Lambert, WITF Multimedia News Director | May 8, 2013 4:00 AM

(Harrisburg) -- Volunteer fire departments in Adams County could soon receive some funding relief. An unprecedented study recommends a new tax to ease the pressures firefighters face to raise money.

Across the state, the number of volunteer firefighters has dropped from 300,000 in the mid-1970s to an estimated 60,000 today.

Pennsylvania State Fire Commissioner Ed Mann says some of those who leave the field often do so because too much time is spent on fundraising.

So, he's encouraged Adams County is at least starting the conversation on how to ease the strain on volunteers.

"At the end of the day, if you can lessen the amount of time a volunteer, especially in the fire service, has to spend doing fundraising in order to provide a serice, I think everybody benefits from that long-term," he says.

The first-of-its-kind study in Pennsylvania recommends the implementation of a quarter of a mil fire tax in every municipality in the county to partially fund volunteer fire departments.

"It would significantly reduce the amount of time an individual would have to spend doing fundraising," Mann says. "I have yet to have a firefighter who's quit our business tell me that they quit because they spent too much time training or they spent too much time responding to calls."

That's about $25 a year for someone with a property valued at $100,000.

Each municipality will now take a look at the recommendation and decide whether or not to approve the levy.

The study was funded in part by the Adams County Volunteer Emergency Services Association and the Adams County Council of Governments.


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