County officials considering incentives for volunteer firefighters

By Stephanie Casanova
Manhattan Mercury – May 24, 2018

Riley County officials are considering ways to compensate volunteer firefighters and volunteer first responders to increase the number of volunteers.

Pat Collins, emergency management director, raised the issue with Riley County commissioners during their Thursday meeting.

Collins said other volunteer fire departments have started to provide incentives like per-call stipends and training incentives like a stipend increase.

“When I started years ago, there was a line of people that would step up and help protect everybody, neighbor’s property,” Collins said. “And that’s, across the nation it’s declining. There’s not that kind of participation in volunteer systems now and if you look across the nation, across Kansas, a lot of the agencies have some form of reimbursement they’re providing for their volunteers.”

Collins said last year volunteer firefighters put in about 6,000 hours of training. He said he’s met with Cindy Volanti, Riley County Human Resource manager, to talk about the possibility of offering volunteers some form of incentive.

Commissioners agreed that Collins should move forward in discussing the costs involved with paying firefighters a per-call stipend or other incentives. Collins said he anticipates the stipends will cost $41,000 per year.

“I don’t think that anybody is going to get rich doing this,” Collins said.

Commissioner Ron Wells said something has to change soon because the county will likely continue to see a decline in volunteers as people’s lives get busier.

“At some point, if we have a fire and don’t have anybody show up that’s going to set the parameters right there,” Wells said.

 

Posted by Gwen Dorr Romine, KSFFA Webmaster
http://www.ksffa.com
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