Herbig introduces bill to help attract, retain volunteer firefighters

Posted: March 25, 2019 | Criminal Justice and Public Safety, Senator Herbig

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.

AUGUSTA — Sen. Erin Herbig, D-Belfast, introduced a bill to help attract and retain volunteer firefighters, to better protect Maine’s rural communities. LD 1014, “An Act to Attract and Retain Firefighters,” received a public hearing before the Legislature’s Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee on Friday.

“Let’s be clear. This is a bill about rural Maine and our state’s refusal to do anything about the fact that we’re struggling to recruit and retain firefighters for our communities,” said Sen. Herbig.

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 testified in favor of the bill, 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.

The bill now faces further action before the committee and votes before the full Maine House and Senate.