A first responders' advocacy group is pushing for a new benefit for retired firefighters and rescue squad workers — one currently enjoyed by retired police officers — but municipal officials across the state, including in Elizabeth City, warn it will be hard to pay for.
The Parity For First Responders legislation, House Bill 278, and its companion bill in the Senate, Senate Bill 179, would grant a separation allowance to firefighters and emergency medical services personnel who retire with 30 years of service. If they retire at age 60, they would only need 25 years of service, according to the proposed legislation. Currently, that benefit is available only to law enforcement retirees.
The text of the legislation also states that the earliest firefighters or EMS personnel could collect the benefit would be July 1, 2024.
The benefit would vary based on the salary someone retires with, but would be around $1,000 a month per retiree, according to Brian Lewis, a lobbyist for the Professional Fire Fighters and Paramedics Association of North Carolina.