SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) -- State lawmakers are considering offering income tax credits of $1,000 to $2,000 for volunteer firefighters, but some fire officials in northern Indiana doubt the proposal will help attract recruits.
"It really isn't going to do a whole lot, but it's something," said Michael Hayes, a full-time Mishawaka firefighter and vice president of the Indiana Township Association, a lobbying group that represents township governments statewide. Those governments typically organize volunteer fire departments.
New Carlisle Fire Chief Chris Antonucci, himself a volunteer, said some firefighters do not want recruits joining just for a tax break.
"I don't know if there's anything the state can do to make people want to volunteer," he told the South Bend Tribune for a story published Thursday. "It's a big commitment."
Many volunteer departments report having more trouble recruiting firefighters than five to 10 years ago. Officials say it's because people have less time to meet increasing training requirements.
For instance, volunteer firefighters in New Carlisle, west of South Bend, meet weekly, and two to three meetings a month are devoted to training, some of them on weekends.
"Society as a whole is so much busier," said Timm Schabbel, chief of the Clay Fire Territory in St. Joseph County.
Most volunteer firefighters in northern Indiana are paid on a point system, earning points for training, fighting fires and attending meetings.
At the end of the year, their pay is determined by the number of points they have earned.