Washington D.C. (WQOW) - A new bipartisan bill in Washington D.C. aims to give financial incentives to entice more people to become volunteer firefighters.
According to the National Fire Protection Association, 65% of firefighters nationwide are volunteers but it's becoming harder to recruit them, especially in rural areas.
A bill introduced by Senator Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisconsin) aims to expand affordable housing opportunities and access to home loan programs for volunteer emergency responders.
Baldwin told News 18 the goal is to take away one more barrier that keeps people from joining the force.
"This looks at both the recruitment angle and the retention angle. You know, they lose people because they can't reimburse for expenses, out of pocket expenses and other issues," Baldwin said. "So, we have to look at all sides of this and this is a really important piece of it."
The bill would also make volunteers eligible for the Housing and Urban Development program "Good Neighbor Next Door Sales" which currently gives professionals in a number of fields a 50% discount on home prices in revitalization areas.
The bill has the support of a number of firefighter associations.
It now heads to the Senate Banking Committee for review.