Financial rewards for serving as a volunteer firefighter are few and far between. That’s to be expected. since no one becomes a volunteer firefighter in order to get rich. In 2017, however, the Illinois legislature did add a small financial benefit to the volunteer service that has pretty much gone unrecognized. Public Act 100-0471 amended Section 10 of the Fire Protection District Act by adding Section 10d (70 ILCS 705/10d).
This new law allows a “volunteer firefighter” to purchase four vehicle tires every three years through the firefighter’s fire protection district’s contract to purchase vehicle tires under Section 2 of the Governmental Joint Purchasing Act. Before a firefighter seeks to take advantage of this new law, however, it’s important to note that there are some very specific qualifications that must be met to qualify for the purchases.
The firefighter must meet the definition of a “volunteer firefighter” as set out in the statute. Under that law, a “volunteer firefighter” is a person “ … who does not receive monetary compensation for his or her services to a fire protection district…”. Thus, if compensation is received by a firefighter in any form (perhaps excepting reimbursement for established out of pocket expenses), the firefighter does not qualify to purchase tires under this law.
In addition, the firefighter must be shown as a firefighter on the rolls of the fire department, and must be authorized, in writing, by the fire chief on the fire district’s letterhead, to make the purchase.
The writing must include the firefighter’s name, the license plate number of the vehicle that will receive the new tires, and must reference the fire protection district’s joint purchasing agreement.
There is no requirement under the statute that there be any reporting of the purchases beyond the fire district itself: the fire protection district itself is responsible for documenting how many tires each volunteer firefighter can purchase under the statute every three years.
As might be expected, the firefighter who receives the tires must pay for the tires, including any taxes related to the purchase. The purchases are not considered tax exempt.
One technical requirement for the purchases is that it only applies to contracts first solicited under Section 4 of the Governmental Joint Purchasing Act on or after September 8, 2017.