Senator Karla Eslinger secures funding for volunteer firefighters

Wednesday, August 11, 2021
State Representative Ron Copeland, Senator Karla Eslinger, Oregon County Presiding Commissioner David Stubblefield and Thayer Councilman Michael King visited Hirsch’s Feed & Farm Supply in Thayer on Monday, Aug. 9. Pictured from left to right are King, Eslinger, Stubblefield, Copeland and Larry Hirsch.

A program intended to help provide worker’s compensation insurance for volunteer firefighters will finally receive funding thanks to the efforts of Sen. Karla Eslinger, R-Wasola. A grant program to fund worker’s compensation premiums was authorized in 2016, but no money has been budgeted until this year. Sen. Eslinger, who serves on the Senate Appropriations Committee, helped secure a $575,000 appropriation in the Fiscal Year 2022 budget.

“Volunteer firefighters risk life and limb to keep rural residents and their property safe from fire,” Sen. Eslinger says. “We can never adequately repay these brave men and women for their sacrifices, but we can at least help cover the cost of insurance so they are compensated if they get hurt while serving us. I’m grateful this important program finally received funding and we can lift this one burden from our volunteer firefighters.”

Administered by the Missouri Division of Fire Safety, the program provides up to $2,000 grants for rural fire protection associations to help pay workers’ compensation premiums. Legislation establishing the program was sponsored by Sen. Eslinger’s predecessor, former Sen. Mike Cunningham, who represented the 33rd Senatorial District prior to 2021. Funding for the program was included in House Bill 8, which appropriates money for the Department of Public Safety.

“Missouri’s volunteer fire service agencies and selfless firefighters are essential to protecting our citizens from fire and other emergencies, but often struggle with limited resources and budgets,” State Fire Marshal Tim Bean said. “Financial assistance with insurance costs allows more money for critical equipment, essential training and other needs. A $575,000 appropriation will go a long way in helping these agencies make ends meet and provide emergency services to their communities.”

Volunteer fire departments can learn more about the worker’s compensation grant program by contacting the Division of Fire Safety at 573-751-1601.