North Island communities depend on the volunteers who serve as firefighters. These people are the real heroes in our communities, endangering their own safety to help others whenever they are needed.
Of the 3,492 fire departments in Canada, 91 per cent of them are staffed by volunteer firefighters. On average, each volunteer firefighter gives their community the equivalent of 60 work days a year, said the Canadian Association of Fire Chiefs (CAFC).
Volunteer firefighters are not paid, but the service they provide our communities is extremely valuable.
Canada’s fire chiefs warn that volunteer firefighters are becoming harder to find and harder to keep. Once recruited, it takes approximately three years to properly train a volunteer firefighter and many do not stay on past five years of service.
The lack of reimbursement for out-of-pocket expenses, inadequate equipment and resources, and the time spent away from families make it difficult to attract new volunteer firefighters and to retain existing volunteers.
From a survey of its members, the CAFC reports that more than 95 per cent stated that personal income tax relief would help them recruit new volunteers and retain those that have already been trained. That is why Canada’s Fire Chiefs are proposing the introduction of a $3,000 tax credit for volunteer firefighters who perform more than 200 hours of service in a given year.
The CAFC is asking the public to show their support for tax relief for firefighters by going to givefirefighterscredit.ca to send a letter to your member of parliament or signing the online petition.