Legislation Would Help Repay The Heroes Among Us

David J. Valesky

June 02, 2005

In communities across the Central New York local firefighters stand ready to assist all of us in our time of need. Some of these brave men and women are paid professionals, but most are volunteers. They serve all of us simply because of their commitment to the community.

We all recognize and honor this commitment. We should also remember that by joining the fire department these brave men and women say they are willing to put their lives on the line for our safety. I believe this heroic level of commitment should be rewarded.

Yet, in community after community fire companies and other emergency responders have difficulty attracting and retaining volunteers. To help address this problem, earlier this year I introduced legislation to offer new incentives for volunteer fire fighters and paramedics.

As we all know when we see cars with blue lights rushing to an emergency, these volunteers depend on their vehicles to protect our communities. Under my proposal, the state Department of Motor Vehicles would exempt volunteer fire fighters and volunteer ambulance workers from paying vehicle registration fees or driver’s license fees.

In light of the newly enacted DMV fee hikes, it is especially important to give this benefit to our brave volunteers. In addition, I have another piece of legislation that, I hope, will make the jobs of firefighters that much easier. Right now it is estimated that less than five percent of homes in America have a fire extinguisher. Yet these life-saving devices can mean the difference between a small fire and one that leaves a family homeless -- or worse.

Earlier this year I introduced legislation to encourage homeowners to purchase fire extinguishers. This bill would allow homeowners to deduct the cost of a fire extinguisher from their personal income tax.

All of our communities need people who are willing and able to step forward in an emergency. These pieces of legislation are two simple steps we can take to help these brave men and women who stand ready to help us. I believe it is the least we can do to repay the heroes among us.