Volunteer fire departments perform enormously important work in many parts of New York State, but the men and women who serve in these units face significant dangers and concerns. Since 1872, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York has helped to educate and train volunteers and has advocated for them in multiple capacities. This continues today as FASNY seeks reforms that can make positive changes in fundraising, recruitment and safety.
Obtaining the resources that volunteer fire departments need to do their jobs effectively and safely is a key component of FASNY’s 2019 legislative agenda. Items that could make a significant positive difference for fire fighters include:
- Billing for emergency medical services —Billing recipients of emergency medical services could be a game changer for volunteer fire departments that until now have had to rely on fundraising. It’s possible that $100 million in revenue could be brought in this way without altering the work that volunteer firefighters do each day. In fact, FASNY estimates that 90 percent of calls are for EMS activities.
- Attracting younger volunteers — With an average age of approximately 50, it’s important for the state’s volunteer fire force to get younger. A proposed program that allows high schoolers to take trade-school classes in firefighting services could improve youth recruitment.
- Banning cancerous substances in furniture — In an effort to reduce the likelihood of fire, some furniture items are treated with carcinogenic chemicals. As these substances might cause more harm than they avert, FASNY seeks a law banning their use. The organization also wants to increase the list of cancers that are covered by volunteer firefighter benefits.
All of these proposed changes could make things safer for volunteer firefighters and the communities they protect. However, no improvement can ever remove the threat of danger that the brave men and women of volunteer fire departments face.
Barasch & McGarry represents volunteer and paid New York firefighters who have been injured in the line of duty. To schedule a free initial consultation regarding a potential claim, please call [ln::phone] or contact us online.