Two moves in 2021 legislative session to bolster volunteer firefighters
TRAER — A bill that became law this week increases the state tax credit for volunteer firefighters from $100 to $250.
Another approved by the governor last week will, for the first time, let voters approve a property tax levy to support the operations of a local fire department.
About 90% of the firefighters in Iowa are volunteers and Iowa Firefighters Association president Nick Riley of Traer says legislators recognized volunteer firefighters took on new risks during the pandemic as emergency responders, transporting Covid patients to hospitals.
“Their interest in us has greatly increased throughout the pandemic,” he says, “which was greatly, greatly appreciated by everyone.”
Riley says the association is hoping to take another step in 2022 and get legislative approval of a pension fund that volunteer firefighters could contribute to. Riley says the Iowa Firefighters Association has found a financial institution that will manage it.
“We can sit down with some of the legislators that had some of those big questions of: How will it be run, how will it funded, what will a firefighter at the end of his service — how can he get his money?”
Riley, like many, has a family history in the profession. His dad was a firefighter for 33 years in Mount Pleasant. His brother served for 15 years and Riley has been a firefighter for the past 12 years. The Iowa Firefighters Association represents 15,000 volunteer and career firefighters.