23 January, 1987
Bills signed aiding volunteer fire companies
TRENTON — State loans will be made available to local volunteer fire companies and rescue squads for the purchase of equipment under legislation signed this week by Gov. Thomas Kean.
In all. Gov. Kean signed three bills that are part of an 18-bill package ,designed to provide various types of assistance to the state’s volunteer fire and rescue services. One measure signed Wednesday will establish a loan fund of $2 million to be administered by the Department of Community Affairs. The bill goes into effect in 60 days.
Local volunteer organizations can borrow money from the fund to buy equipment, vehicles and to build or improve emergency facilities.
Currently, volunteer fire companies and rescue squads arc supported by municipal aid and private donations.
Government assistance has, until now, been “very limited,” according to Assemblyman Richard Zimmer (R-Mercer, Hunterdon), one sponsor of the legislation The bill was co-sponsored by Sen. Richard- Van Wagner (D- Monmouth)
“Volunteer rescue workers should not be forced to bear the full burden of raising funds for their organizations.” Assemblyman Zimmer, said.
“Fundraising drives are time-consuming and often do not bring in enough money to pay for equipment and facility costs.”
The interest rate on the loans will be 2 percent. Loan limits and repayment timetables will be set depending on the purpose of the loan.
A second measure signed into law this week requires the Division of Pensions,. a branch of the Treasury Department, to make recommendations concerning the creation of a pension program for members of volunteer fire companies and first aid and rescue squads.
The bill appropriates $25,000 for the study, which must be completed within one year. The legislation was sponsor-ed by Sen. Frank Pallone (D- Mon-mouth) and Assemblyman Joseph Palaia (R-Monmouth).
Among factors that would be studied would be the age and length of service needed to retire, and how many hours volunteers must work during a year and the number of years that must be donated in order to qualify.
The third law aimed at non-paid emergency organizations would exempt equipment used by volunteer marine rescue squads from state registration fees.
The measure amends previous laws regulating the registration of vessels and outboard motors. The Division of Motor Vehicles regulates the registration of marine equipment in a method similar to the registration of cars.
Other measures in the 18-bill pack-age, which are still pending in the Legislature, would provide a $1,000 tax exemption for volunteer fire or rescue workers and a $50,000 death benefit for survivors.