Committee unanimously approves Herbig bill to help attract, retain volunteer firefighters

Posted: April 09, 2019 | Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Senator Herbig

AUGUSTA — Legislation from Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, to help attract and retain volunteer firefighters and better protect Maine’s rural communities, received unanimous approval from the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Wednesday, April 3. LD 1014, “An Act to Attract and Retain Firefighters,” now faces votes in the Maine Senate and House.

Sen. Erin Herbig (front row, center), Rep. Tim Theriault (fourth from left) and Fire Chief Bill Gillespie (third from right), with other firefighters and fire chiefs from Maine, in the Hall of Flags, Maine State House.

“Let’s be clear. This is a bill about rural Maine. It’s about our need to make sure the services that help keep our communities safe are well staffed and recognized for the crucial work they do,” said Sen. Herbig. “I’m so glad the committee that oversees our public safety policies has unanimously supported this bill.”

LD 1014 would fund the Maine Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP), which provides modest retirement benefits to firefighters and EMS workers based on their length of service. The program was enacted several years ago, but so far as not received the funding it needs.

Members of Maine’s firefighting community previously testified in favor of the bill during a public hearing, including Liberty Fire Chief Bill Gillespie, who is head of the LOSAP board, and Rep. Tim Theriault, R-China, who serves as Fire Chief in China Village.

“This bill presents a good opportunity for us to entice some younger people to join the local fire departments,” said Rep. Theriault.