NASHVILLE — Legislation co-sponsored by Sen. Ken Yager, R-Kingston, to aid volunteer firefighters is headed for a final vote in the Tennessee Senate after it was approved by the Finance, Ways & Means Committee this week.
Senate Bill 778, introduced by Yager, would provide an annual $600 payment to firefighters upon completion of at least 30 hours of training.
“I am delighted that this bill is headed to the Senate floor for final approval,” said Yager, who has advocated for the supplemental payment for the last several General Assemblies. “It is a well-deserved payment to help these firefighters with expenses they incur as they put their lives on the line for our communities.”
According to Yager’s office, 64% of Tennessee’s firefighters are volunteers. As it currently stands, the cost of their training and equipment is often at their own expense. Yager’s proposal to provide a training payment to volunteer firefighters would cost $4.92 million and is funded in Gov. Bill Lee’s 2021-2022 budget proposal.
Yager said Gov. Lee’s budget also includes $1 million to provide support grants for volunteer fire departments under a program set up by legislation passed in 2019. That legislation will also be considered on final approval in the coming weeks. The Volunteer Firefighter Equipment & Training Grant Program was established to better equip volunteer fire departments to serve their communities and to reduce fire fatalities, including those incurred by firefighters.
“Our volunteer firefighters are true heroes,” Yager said. “We will continue to look for ways to make their jobs easier and to recruit additional volunteers as they protect our homes and our lives.”
Earlier this year, Scott County Commissioner Jerried Jeffers, who represents the 2nd District, encouraged his fellow commissioners to support the legislation.