The first meeting of the re-established Danbury Volunteer Firefighter Tax Abatement ad hoc committee has been held. The City Council members are looking into whether Danbury should offer the incentive to members of the volunteer fire companies who live in the CIty. It's a program in place in some surrounding towns, which only have volunteer firefighters. Danbury has 80 to 100 volunteer firefighters in 12 companies, but they are consolidating due to a shortage of volunteers.
Democratic Councilman Frank Salvatore Jr says training and other requirements have increased since he became a volunteer fireman in the 1980s, when all that was required was a physical from a doctor. The proposal would exclude elected officials from getting the tax break.
An ad hoc committee was formed in 2007, but never recommended an ordinance.
Danbury volunteers must meet physical requirements, be certified annually, and complete quarterly training sessions with career staff and weekly sessions with their own companies. The city covers these costs.
The Connecticut Conference of Municipalities created a guide in 2017 for volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention, when fewer than a dozen towns offered this, but it's grown significantly since then. If the goal is recruitment, Councilman John Esposito questioned whether the abatement would be extended to the property tax on vehicles since most new volunteers would likely younger and don't own property. Danbury has 92 active volunteer firefighters, 73 live in Danbury; 14 fire police, all Danbury residents; and 12 ladies auxiliary, 8 of whom live in Danbury.