Use tax incentives
After reading the news story “Volunteer firefighter forces dwindle” (Nov. 10 and TribLIVE.com), a solution is quite evident in my eyes.
As a former firefighter, I know the time and commitment these men and women endure to provide a much-needed service to their communities. As the story indicated, the hours of training, the hours committed to fundraising to ensure viability, are quite time-consuming.
While alliances have been one of the ways that some fire companies have ensured their continuing existence, they also create voids in coverage. The question is: How do we solve the problems of recruitment? The existing firefighters have shown they are committed to their communities, but in this day and age, is that enough? Sadly, that answer is “no.”
The answer is to create incentives for these volunteers. Offering property tax or state tax relief would give many men and women the incentive to join their local fire companies. The more fire calls or fundraising events that they attend, the more the relief.
While I admit that having to offer these types of incentives is a reflection of the type of world we now find ourselves in, the state of the economy, the pressures of life as we know it demand that we look at different avenues to ensure these vital, lifesaving departments. If we don't do something, I can envision the time when certain government entities will call for paid, unionized fire companies, which of course will lead to higher taxes for everyone.