NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Legislation to help volunteer firefighters was unanimously approved by the Tennessee Senate on Wednesday.
Senate Bill 778 will provide an annual $600 payment when volunteer firefighters complete at least 30 hours of training.
The majority of Tennessee’s firefighters, 64%, are volunteers, according to a release from Senator Mike Bell's (R-Riceville) office, who co-sponsored the bill. Currently, the cost of any training or equipment is often at their own expense.
The bill shows the $4.92 million cost for the annual volunteer firefighter training payment will be funded in Governor Bill Lee’s 2021-2022 budget proposal.
“Our volunteer firefighters put their lives on the line and give up their time to keep our communities safe,” said 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.”
In addition, Bell said Governor Lee’s budget includes $1 million to provide support grants for volunteer firefighter departments under the Volunteer Firefighter Equipment and Training Grant Program set up by legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2019.
“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 Bell. “This $600 annual training supplement will go a long way towards recognizing their service.”