Maine Legislature Pushed to Address Volunteer Firefighter Shortage

Some Maine fire officials hope lawmakers will consider measures aimed to attract more volunteers and allow departments to remain financially afloat.

Small towns throughout Maine face a shortage of trained firefighters and aging volunteer ranks.

The Morning Sentinel reports that the Maine Fire Protection Services Commission is recommending that lawmakers consider giving volunteers workers compensation coverage, state tax credits, eligibility for state employee health insurance programs, student loan forgiveness and retirement benefits.

The commission is also suggesting lawmakers establish a firefighting training facility, fund grants for municipalities and their fire departments, fund a statewide personnel database and establish another fire marshal position.

China Village Fire Chief Tim Theriault says two bills passed the Legislature last session but were not funded. He says they will be reintroduced during the current session.