Legislation co-sponsored by Senator Mike Bell (R-Riceville) to aid volunteer firefighters received unanimous approval by the Tennessee Senate today. Senate Bill 778 will provide an annual $600 payment upon completion of at least 30 hours of training.
“Our volunteer firefighters put their lives on the line and give up their time to keep our communities safe,” said Senator Bell, who is a former volunteer firefighter. “They have to raise their own money to be able to purchase equipment and fund their training. I am glad this bill has passed the Senate. It will help make the financial burden for volunteer firefighters a little lighter.”
The majority of Tennessee’s firefighters, 64 percent, are volunteers. Currently, the cost of any training or equipment is often at their own expense. The $4.92 million cost for the annual volunteer firefighter training payment is funded in Governor Bill Lee’s 2021-2022 budget proposal.
In addition, Senator Bell said Governor Lee’s budget includes $1 million to provide support grants for volunteer firefighter departments under a program set up by legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2019. The Volunteer Firefighter Equipment and Training Grant Program was established to better equip volunteer firefighter departments to serve their communities and reduce fire fatalities, including those incurred by firefighters.
“While my personal service in the volunteer fire department ended a number of years ago, I know firsthand that many of our state’s volunteer firefighters are not only sacrificing their time but their money and their resources to serve our state,” added Senator Bell. “This $600 annual training supplement will go a long way towards recognizing their service.”