HARRISBURG, Pa. (WHTM) – Volunteer fire companies will be able to keep more of the money they bring in during chicken barbecues, pancake breakfasts and other fundraisers under a new Pennsylvania law.

Senate Bill 83, introduced by state Sen. Scott Martin (R-Lancaster), was signed by Gov. Tom Wolf on Friday and goes into effect beginning on January 1, 2020.

The legislation exempts volunteer fire companies from paying sales tax on food and drinks sold during fundraising events.

Under previous law, volunteer fire companies paid the sales tax on all prepared food sales during fundraisers.

Martin says exempting fire company events from the sales tax would mirror the approach the state takes toward similar fundraising efforts, such as school sports booster clubs.

“Some fire companies were forced to pay thousands of dollars in sales taxes to the state instead of being able to put that money to good use in acquiring the equipment and training they need to keep us safe,” Martin said in a statement. “I am thankful that this new law will help make their job a little easier by making sure they get to keep more of the money they raise instead of sending it to Harrisburg.”

Martin said the legislation was a priority for local fire companies because the cost of firefighting equipment and training continues to rise, while the number of volunteers continues to decline. He said on average, the cost of equipment increases by 4.5 percent every year.

In addition to the cost of equipment and training, a cancer preemption law passed in 2011 also placed additional financial burdens on fire companies, requiring them to raise even more money to meet their obligations, Martin said.