The NVFC’s Advocacy Efforts Lead to Policies that Help Volunteer Fire, EMS, and Rescue Services

The National Volunteer Fire Council (NVFC) is your advocate on the federal level to fight for legislation that benefits the volunteer emergency services. Over the past six months, Congress, President Trump, and President Biden have taken a number of important actions, supported by the NVFC, to help the nation’s volunteer fire, EMS, and rescue services.

On March 11, President Biden signed the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 into law. The bill, which provides $1.9 trillion mostly targeted at COVID relief, included $200 million in FY 2021 funding for the Staffing for Adequate Fire and Emergency Response (SAFER) grant program, and $100 million in FY 2021 funding for the Assistance to Firefighters Grant (AFG) program. These critical grant programs help departments recruit and retain volunteers, hire firefighters, and secure needed equipment, resources, and training to help them protect their communities.

The American Rescue Plan Act also contained language enabling ambulance services to be reimbursed by Medicare for treatment in place, “…in cases in which an individual would have been transported to a destination permitted under Medicare regulations but such transport did not occur as a result of community-wide EMS protocols due to the public health emergency.”

Click here for more information on the American Rescue Plan Act.

On January 21, President Biden issued two Executive Orders that directly addressed policy recommendations made by the NVFC. Specifically, Biden issued a memorandum waiving the local cost share on Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) public assistance funding through the end of the current fiscal year. The second memorandum invoked the Defense Production Act to fill PPE shortfalls by acquiring additional stockpiles, improving distribution systems, building market capacity, or expanding the industrial base.

Click here for more information on these Executive Orders.

On December 27, President Trump signed H.R. 133 into law. The bill included FY 2021 funding for the federal government, and also made the Volunteer Responder Incentive Protection Act (VRIPA) permanent. Specifically, H.R. 133 included funding increases for AFG and SAFER, the U.S. Fire Administration, the Volunteer Fire Assistance grant program, and the Rural EMS Training Grant program, as well as full funding for the National Firefighter Registry.

Permanent extension of VRIPA had been a legislative priority for the NVFC and is a win for fire, EMS, and rescue departments to enhance recruitment and retention efforts. VRIPA exempts property tax benefits and up to $600 per year in other volunteer recruitment and retention incentives from being subject to federal income tax.

Click here for more information on H.R. 133 and here for more information on VRIPA.

The NVFC will continue to advocate for federal policies and programs that assist the nation’s volunteer emergency services. Click here to visit the NVFC’s Legislative Action Center, where you can sign up to receive legislative action alerts and use your voice to help support the NVFC’s advocacy efforts.