Reichert, Larson Introduce Bill to Support Volunteer Firefighters and EMS Personnel

Washington, DC – This week, Reps. Dave Reichert (R-WA) and John B. Larson (D-CT) introduced the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act of 2017 (VRIPA), a bipartisan bill that would provide a tax exemption on the benefits volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services (EMS) personnel receive from their communities.

“Firefighters and EMS personnel along with members of law enforcement are the individuals who come to our rescue when we are most in need,” said Rep. Reichert. “I know this to be true from my personal experience. Years ago a first responder came to my side and because of their help, I am here today. Like I learned long ago, these men and women are essential to the safety of our loved ones and to the security of our communities. Giving them much needed tax relief is the least we could do for individuals who are willing to run into a burning building or provide life-saving care on our behalf.”

“Volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel put their lives on the line to keep our communities safe,” said Rep. Larson.  “These brave men and women should not be taxed on the small tokens of gratitude localities bestow in return for their selfless actions. This commonsense, bipartisan legislation will help ease some of the burdens of our volunteer first responders’ experience. It is the least we can do when they already sacrifice so much. I thank Rep. Reichert for being a partner on this legislation for so many years and his continued leadership on this issue."

What they're saying:

“The IAFC thanks Rep. Dave Reichert for his continued leadership in strengthening volunteer and combination fire departments across the United States," said Chief John Sinclair, International Association of Fire Chiefs president and chairman of the board. “This legislation will ensure that fire departments can continue offering recruitment and retention incentives that ensure fire departments are fully staffed and communities remain protected from fires and other life threatening emergencies.”

“On behalf of the National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) I’d like to thank Representatives David Reichert, John Larson and all of the bi-partisan original cosponsors for introducing this important legislation, which will help local emergency response agencies recruit and retain volunteer fire, EMS and rescue personnel," said NVFC chairman, Kevin D. Quinn. "On average a volunteer firefighter in the United States donates services worth more than $18,000 to the community that he or she serves every year. It is common sense to clarify that the nominal incentives that some volunteers receive in recognition of their service should not be taxed by the federal government."

“We commend Congressman Reichert and Congressman Larson for introducing this important legislation," said Bill Webb, Executive Director of the Congressional Fire Services Institute. "They understand the immense sacrifices our nation's firefighters make every day to protect our communities.  Passage of the Volunteer Incentive Protection Act will help the volunteer fire service with recruitment and retention by enabling volunteer firefighters to keep certain benefits provided by state and local authorities, rather than returning a portion of that amount to the Internal Revenue Service.  That's good legislation for the fire service and for our local communities.”