Benefits for volunteer firefighters considered
Published 4:41 am Wednesday, March 1, 2023
Emergency Management Director says program will help recruitment, retention
The Mississippi Legislature is proposing a bill to set up a financial benefits program for volunteer firefighters in the state, potentially reaching the volunteers that help protect the areas of Panola County.
House Bill 521 would establish the Mississippi Length of Service Award Program (LoSAP) which would create a new point system and allow specific incentive payments of $500 annually. ‘
The money accumulated after 20 years would be earning interest and be awarded in a single payment.
Batesville firefighters and other full-time employees in other cities and towns have benefit packages provided through the State of Mississippi, but volunteer first responders have not had those benefits.
Based on performances in training courses, drills, and other duties, a volunteer firefighter would essentially earn points in the system. The legislation calls for a series of tiers that would determine the level of support individual firefighters would receive.
“Approximately 150-175 volunteers on the roster countywide said Panola County Emergecy Management Director, Daniel Cole Anything we could do to help with recruitment and retention. Anything that comes down from the state would definitely be an asset to us locally. Recruiting and retention is something we are struggling with and not just us it is state-wide.
Tier placement would depend not only on years as a volunteer firefighter, but also take into consideration the number of fire training courses and events volunteers have participated in over their years of service.
The bill is currently in the appropriations and insurance committees.