Volunteer fire departments and ambulance corps across New York have a tough time recruiting volunteers. A group of state lawmakers say an incentive may make that easier.
Republicans in the Senate and Assembly are proposing full state income tax exemptions for volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel.
Assemblyman Stephen Hawley said the tax break would also be a way to demonstrate gratitude for the work these people do.
"Dedicated and brave volunteers are the heartbeat of these organizations, many times sacrificing family obligations and other interests to be on call and keep our communities safe," he said. "They are on the front lines of not only dangerous fires, but also situations involving crime, drug overdoses, and other perilous situations."
Hawley said he has been a lifelong member of the Stafford Volunteer Fire Department.
Volunteer first responders in New York state are currently eligible for an annual $200 tax credit.
In order to qualify for the full state tax exemption under the proposal, a volunteer would have to put in at least a year of service and attend more than half of his or her organization's annual calls. Eligibility also would require volunteers to fully complete all state-mandated training, be in good standing with their organizations, and be certified by the chief emergency service coordinator of their county.