OXFORD – In response to a rapid decline in the number of volunteer firefighters in recent years, Representative Richard Hanna paid a visit to the Oxford Fire Department on Thursday to introduce a new initiative to encourage participation in volunteer-based fire departments nationwide.
Hanna’s proposal, titled the Supporting Emergency Responders Volunteer Efforts (SERVE) Act of 2013, calls for a $1,000 federal tax income credit for volunteers of firefighting and emergency medical service organizations. According to Hanna, volunteer firefighters and EMS crews often pay out-of-pocket for necessities such as gasoline for response calls and training clothing - expenses that should not burden volunteers, he said.
“We are seeing it in Oxford and throughout the district that volunteers are becoming more difficult to find,” Hanna said, citing an estimated 750,000 volunteer firefighters serving throughout the country. “There are so many rural communities throughout the country that rely on volunteers ... Hopefully, this (incentive) will encourage people to get more involved.”