Sen. Curry introduces bill to better support first responders

Tue, 03/21/2023 - 12:00pm

    AUGUSTA — Sen. Chip Curry, D-Belfast, has introduced LD 588, “An Act to Promote Public Safety and Retain Essential First Responders by Funding the Maine Length of Service Award Program,” before the Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee.

    This bill would provide ongoing funding to support retirement benefits for volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services personnel in Maine, per a news release. 

    “Our volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel are critical to ensuring the safety and well-being of Maine residents. In many rural and remote areas of our state, these volunteers are the backbone of our emergency response system. Without their dedication, communities are left vulnerable, and lives are at risk. They deserve our utmost support and recognition for their dedication and sacrifices,” said Sen. Curry. “These individuals often balance their volunteer work with full-time jobs and family responsibilities, yet remain devoted to serving their communities. By providing the necessary funding for the Length of Service Award Program, we can ensure they receive the retirement benefits they deserve while promoting public safety.”

    LD 588 would allocate $2.5 million to the Maine Fire Protection Services Commission beginning in fiscal year 2023-24. This funding will enable the Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP) to offer retirement contributions to eligible volunteer firefighters and emergency medical services personnel.

    LOSAP is designed to reward these first responders for their service to Maine communities, acknowledging their invaluable contributions and selfless service, according to the release. 

    Since its creation, LOSAP has faced significant funding challenges. LD 588 seeks to provide the necessary financial support to fully fund the program, helping to attract and retain volunteer first responders and ensuring that Maine's emergency response network remains strong and sustainable.

    LD 588 faces additional action in the committee.