State Auditor: Volunteer fire service saves taxpayers nearly $250 million a year

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Delaware State Auditor Kathy McGuiness released the Delaware Volunteer Fire Service Special Report.
This year, the Auditor’s Office estimated that the Delaware volunteer fire service saved the state taxpayers over $244 million for the fiscal year ending June 30.
The report recommended tightening up record-keeping and internal spending controls. Sporadic reports of questionable spending can reflect poorly on the work done by fire companies, the report noted.
Fire companies have been dealing with lower revenues from fund-raising events as well as far fewer parties and receptions at fire halls.
Delaware has only one-full time fire department in Wilmington. Volunteer companies have been adding full-time staff members and do receive financial assistance from the state, counties, and municipalities. An aging population, as well as work and family demands, have put pressure on recruiting efforts.

“These volunteers not only sacrifice their time and energy, but they also saved the state taxpayers more of more than $244 million this past fiscal year,” said McGuiness. “Volunteer first responders save lives, and my special report recognizes their value while ensuring transparency to the Delaware taxpayer.”

This year, Delaware’s volunteer fire service is dealing with a pandemic that is posing several challenges for first responders. Volunteer firefighters and emergency personnel face a high likelihood of exposure to the virus, along with the added costs of personal protective equipment.

McGuiness supports efforts to receive additional federal stimulus funds that would aid firefighters by ensuring appropriate supplies, including personal protective equipment.

“In the immediate term, the governor should allocate CARES Act funding to these volunteer companies to ensure their current needs are satisfied. Lawmakers should also create a fund independent of Grant-in-Aid to extend the longevity of the volunteer fire service in Delaware,” McGuiness stated.

Click here to download the report: https://auditor.delaware.gov/wp-content/uploads/sites/40/2020/11/FINAL-FIRE-FY-2020.pdf

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