TAX CREDIT: Volunteer Firefighter Law

Volunteer fire fighters risk their lives to keep people safe.

In the small Iowa town of Buffalo, the fire chief has served more than four decades. He even lives next door to the fire station.

Now, a new law gives him a small reward for that service.

A new year at the Buffalo Fire Department means 43 years of volunteered service for Chief Terry Adams, 28 of those as chief.

“I’m a third generation fireman on the Buffalo Fire Department. My son is fourth generation.  My grandsons are fifth generation,” Adams says, “we’ve got three engines and a tanker.”

The New Year also begins a new law in Iowa, one that allows volunteer firefighters like Chief Adams to claim an income tax credit of $50 for their efforts.

For buffalo’s 308 calls in 2012, that comes out to be about 17-cents  each, or equal to about one-fourth the cost of a helmet.

Fortunately, the City covers gear, trucks, equipment, and training, the same training as the bigger departments.

“If your house is on fire, it doesn’t know that a volunteer department is coming or a paid department is coming, it’s all the same. It takes the same equipment to put it out. It takes the same techniques to put it out. The paid firefighters get paid, the volunteer firefighters don’t.”

But Chief Adams says it’s not about the money for these men in red. For a small town like Buffalo, the fire department is their biggest asset.

From fires to floods for free.

“I enjoy helping people, I guess, is probably the biggest thing.” For the Chief, that’s enough.

“I would hope that it don’t ever come to the point where we have to start paying people to become volunteer because that’s kind of an oxymoron, I guess.”

While the law went into effect on January 1st, volunteers can’t claim the tax credit until they file their 2013 income taxes.

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