A new year means a lot of new things…
A new year at the Buffalo, Iowa 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,” says Chief Adams. “My son is fourth generation. My grandsons are fifth generation.”
A new year also begins a new law in Iowa, which gives volunteer firefighters a $50 income tax credit 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 don’t know that a volunteer department is coming or a paid department is coming,” says Chief Adams. “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,” says Chief Adams.
And 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 a oxymoron.”
Chief Adams says there are areas in the state and across the country that have tried to get some sort of pension plan or paid-per-call plan, but he doesn’t think Buffalo would ever pursue that.
His department of 25 has two openings right now and he doesn’t see this $50 tax credit filling those positions any quicker than normal.
While this law went into effect on January 1st, people cannot claim the $50 tax credit until they file their 2013 income taxes.