At the last Idyllwild Fire Protection District commission meeting, Paul Riggi, president of Volunteer Company 621, mentioned federal legislation that may benefit volunteer fire companies such as Idyllwild’s.

H.R. 343 would amend the Internal Revenue Code to encourage people to volunteer for firefighting or emergency medical service.

The bill would allow individuals to value each hour of qualified services at $20 and treat that as a contribution to the organization, with a limit of 300 hours per person annually.

“The bill creates a tax deduction for volunteer first responders and will help volunteer fire departments and other public safety organizations recruit and retain volunteers,” said U.S. David B. McKinley (R-WV), who introduced the bill. After several meetings with volunteer fire departments in West Virginia, McKinley recognized the problem of recruiting volunteers and offered the proposed legislation as a solution.

He and Rep. Dave Loebsack (D-IA) originally submitted the bill at the end of the 114th Congress in December. They re-introduced it last month in the current congressional session. The bill has been referred to the House Committee on Ways and Means.

“… [L]ocal agencies are increasingly struggling to recruit and retain volunteer firefighters and EMTs. This common-sense bill would help bolster staffing in volunteer public safety agencies by allowing responders to claim a portion of the value of the services they donate each year as a charitable donation,” said Chief Philip C. Stittleburg, chair of the National Volunteer Fire Council.