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Legislation passed unanimously by Missouri House aims to bring tax deductions to volunteer firefighters

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According to the US Fire Administration, more than 70 percent of state fire departments are volunteer.

Recently passed legislation by the Missouri House would benefit many volunteer firefighters in our area.

Chris Reeves is a volunteer firefighter at the Redings Mill Fire Department.

"You get a little taste of everything, whether it's going on a structure fire or a medical call, just helping people in general," Reeves said.

While he's passionate about helping others, it comes at a cost.

Fuel expenses and wear and tear on his vehicle are paid out of pocket with no reimbursement.

However, thanks to House Bill 444, that could soon change, authorizing a tax deduction for volunteer firefighters by next year.

"People would love to see something like that happen, knowing that there's somebody out there who cares about what they do," Reeves said.

Redings Mill fire officials say any financial assistance for the 10 to 25 volunteers that help each year, would keep response times low by helping those volunteers to afford covering the 110-mile district.

"Paying out of their own pocket for fuel, that sometimes makes it difficult for them to come out and help," said Ronnie Metcalf, assistant chief.

The amount of training hours determines the deduction amount.

Under the legislation, volunteers with 12 hours a year will be eligible for a $500 tax deduction, and those with 36 hours a year or more, will qualify for $1,000 in deductions.

With training on a weekly basis, the volunteer firefighters at Redings Mill well exceed the requirement for a thousand dollar deduction.

"It will help at the end of the year," Metcalf said. "I don't think financial gain is the motivating factor for our volunteers, but every little bit does help."

While a tax break would be nice, Reeves says ultimately, protecting area residents is worth every sacrifice.

"You can't put a price on helping people," he said.

The legislation goes to the state Senate on Friday.
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