Saving America's Volunteer Fire Fighters!

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SAVING THE AMERICAN VOLUNTEER FIRE FIGHTER 
 
DON’T LET CALLING 9-1-1 BECOME A GAME OF CHANCE
 
#SAVINGFIRE is a short title for Saving America’s Volunteer Firefighters.
 
#SAVINGFIRE is a movement to help recruit young adults (Male/Female Ages 18 – 35) and to retain existing volunteers by easing their financial burden through income tax and property insurance reimbursements.
 
Our goal is to increase the number of people willing to become volunteer firefighters and give our current volunteer firefighter a reason to stay in the department and continue to train.
 
Most volunteer firefighters are working class people. They tend to be just as busy, if not more so, as most Americans. The difference is, they are not paid to answer 9-1-1 calls for help and they are not paid to take the required training needed to help their “customers”.
 
They are volunteers. So in addition to answering 9-1-1 calls they also have to hold down a full-time job(s). Is it fair to tax volunteer firefighters while others that serve your community receive wages and benefits?
 
If the government fails to answer the call to provide meaningful financial incentives for volunteer firefighters, the days of the volunteer firefighter are numbered.
 
Who will be your hero when you need to call 9-1-1?
 
Q. How much money would it take to have a real impact on this national crisis?

A. All firefighters in the United States of America deserve to be paid a living wage, however until that day comes, we are asking congress to fund $9.11 Billion for reimbursement of taxes paid by active & trained volunteer firefighters on their property and the income they earn through their “day jobs” in all states and territories of the United States of America.
 
Q. This seems like a huge request, what facts are there to support this?
 
A. According to the National Volunteer Fire Council, “The time donated by volunteer firefighters saves localities across the United States and estimated $139 billion dollars, however, less than $700 million is budgeted to help volunteer fire departments, with most of that money going to help offset the skyrocketing cost of fire and rescue vehicles and equipment.

Q. What about the rest of us? It seems that this money could help more people if it were spent elsewhere to help stimulate the economy.

A. That's the best part! Not only will this help millions of people who rely on volunteer firefighters by preserving this much need service, it will also be a stimulus to the local economy of the thousands of small towns across the nation who are protected by volunteer fire departments.

Since most firefighters are working class people the majority of this money will probably be spent on goods and services purchased in or around the towns they serve. Firefighters will undoubtedly take advantage of this financial benefit to replace an old car, upgrade to a nicer place to live, buy new shoes for their children. When your local firefighters benefit, your community also benefits. The ripple effect of this benefit will help local businesses and even create new jobs. The government may very well reap more than they sow from this new incentive.
 
More Facts:
According to the National Fire Protection Association, a call for help from the fire department occurs about every 23 seconds.
 
There were 1,345,500 fires reported in the USA in 2015, resulting in 3,280 deaths and 15,700 injuries. In truth, these numbers are less than they once were because of fire prevention programs and the good work of agencies like CPSC. But when it’s your house that burns, even one is too many. One death is too many. There is nothing “acceptable” in these facts.
 
The number of volunteer firefighters who can answer your 9-1-1 calls has dropped from 897,750 in 1984 to in 756,400 in 2011. In addition, the time current volunteers can spare is shrinking. Many cannot answer daytime alarms because they can’t leave their “day job”.
 
The decline in volunteers is bad news, but a crisis is revealed when you learn that the 10.8 million alarms answered in 1980 have skyrocketed to 29.1 million alarms in 2014.  The problem is epidemic in nature and the need for action is no less an emergency than any reason to call 9-1-1. 
 
It’s only common sense to understand the dilemma and for every 9-1-1 caller where service is delayed due to the lack of first responders. For those that lie in wait as the minutes hang like hours, the truth is dire and agonizingly clear.
 
Any other business would have recognized the need long ago. Immediate action is needed now to increase the trained first responders.
 
Q. Shouldn’t we do a study first?
 
A. There have been many studies done on the subject. In addition, there have been many dollars wasted updating and redoing this work to only find the same answers. Request for tax relief for volunteers has been suggested in nearly every study done, no matter the locality.
 
The following excerpt from a United States Fire Administration Report from a 2007 Study had this to say about the money issue facing volunteers and incidentally, things have only gotten worse.
 
“The Two-Income Family--The surge in the number of two-income families since the early 1970s has meant that people have very little time to volunteer. Time is spent at work, with the children, and maintaining the house. Spare time is an anomaly today. The little time people do find to volunteer is often too little to allow them to become active in the fire service. Those who do volunteer in the emergency services today often discover that the time requirements, particularly the startup demands associated with initial training, are too great.”
 
The issue is clear. Without meaningful monetary incentive, firefighters will not continue to do this important work.
 
Volunteer Firefighters don’t go on strike; they simply stop answering when the siren sounds.  Trucks that used to have a full crew now have only a few volunteers, especially during daytime calls.
 
This request for $9.11 Billion dollars would not require any special laws or complex requirement to be written. The money would simply flow through the Department of Homeland Security to FEMA’s SAFER (Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response) grant program to the individual firefighters that meet their state firefighter certification requirements and respond to a required percentage of alarms to remain in good standing in their volunteer fire department and file a request for reimbursement.
 
Please write to your elected officials on all levels of federal, state and local government to let them know that you support #SAVING FIRE.
 
Share your support on Facebook. Post videos of your support to YouTube. Use every resource in your power to help.
 
We aren’t seeking donations, only your heartfelt support, in your own words, about how important you feel your local volunteer firefighters are to you.
 
Why this should matter to you:
Your letter will help to ensure that there is someone there to answer the call when you call 9-1-1! The life you save could be your own or someone you love dearly.

#SavingFire
 
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Photo of the aerial platform sunset picture taken at "The Island Fire" Logan Twp. near Altoona, Pa courtesy www.tommclaughlinphotography.com

 



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