CUMMING — Jack Murphy said he remembers when Forsyth County’s fire department was comprised solely of volunteers.
While today’s force is staffed with paid employees, volunteer firefighters are still an integral part of departments statewide. That’s why Murphy, the District 27 state senator, worked to help cut costs for those serving in a volunteer capacity through his Senate Bill 298.
The measure removed a fee charged to volunteer firefighters when renewing their class E and F licenses. It also earned Murphy, a Republican from Cumming, the 2014 Legislator of the Year award from the Georgia State Firefighters Association and the Georgia Association of Fire Chiefs.
“I really appreciate you recognizing me on this,” Murphy said Monday morning during a ceremony at the Forsyth County Fire headquarters. “It was a team effort.”
The bill was primarily about license plates, prescriptions and parking decals, but after a holdup on the license fee measure, Murphy said he “got this tacked on.”
Warner Robins Fire Chief Robert Singletary, president of the chiefs association, said the group “sincerely appreciates you doing this.”
“There’s really not anything we can do without our elected officials,” he said. “... This is just one small way that maybe we can help give them some incentive.”
Lanier Swafford, chief of the fire department in neighboring Dawson County and president of the firefighters association, said the fee “seems like a small amount, but these volunteers take money out of their pockets, they take time away from family and this is our way of showing our appreciation.”
If not for Murphy’s efforts, Swafford said, “I don’t know that we would have gotten it passed.”