The men and women who serve on Mississippi’s volunteer fire departments aren’t in it for the money. Because there isn’t any. They aren’t paid for what they do. But soon, those firefighters will have a retirement benefit. Gov. Reeves on Monday signed legislation that’ll put up to $500 a year into a volunteer firefighter’s retirement account.
Tommy Malone, the fire coordinator in Leake County, says it’ll be an incentive that the fire departments can use to shore up their ranks.
“We’ve seen a lot of change in the demographics of our fire departments. A lot of what we have now as far as volunteers is going to be our older guys. But we’re hoping this is going to encourage some younger guys to maybe get in and stay with it, protecting our communities from fires and emergencies.”
Malone says those volunteer departments need as many members as they can get because on any given call, only a certain number of firefighters will be available.
“A lot of our people, instead of like it used to be, working at local factories to where they could get off work to go help on fires– a lot of these guys now are working offshore or out of town and things like that. They’re not accessible during the day. And so it really puts a crunch on daytime response.”
The retirement benefit will be based on an individual firefighter’s record.
“It’ll be a criteria-type of program of where they have to meet so many calls and they have to attend so many meetings and get certain training and things like that.”
The law takes effect in July.