Bill aiding volunteer firefighters signed into law by Cuomo

Originally published in Nassau Herald on June 23, 2020.

A legislation introduced by State Sen. Todd Kaminsky that protects the benefits of volunteer firefighters and emergency medical personnel was signed into law by Gov. Cuomo.

The bill was passed by state assembly and senate on May 27 and was signed by Cuomo on June 18. The bill was co-sponsored by Kaminsky, who represents many South Shore volunteer fire departments and Assemblyman Fred Thiele (I-Sag Harbor), will protect the Length of Service Award Program. The program provides pension benefits to volunteer firefighters who reach certain milestones. 

“Throughout this pandemic, our brave volunteer firefighters and emergency medical responders have been on the front lines day in and day out, protecting our communities while risking their lives to save ours,” Kaminsky said. “Now our volunteer firefighters and EMTs across the state who have been forced to stay home will have their benefits protected. 

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic restrictions has affected volunteer firefighters and their efforts to attain the required 50 points per year through responding to calls, taking part in training and being on call to be eligible for New York state’s length of service award program that serves as a pension fund for the firefighters.

Fire officials said that because of the restrictions many fire department members are not meeting the requirements, adding that the quarantining and near shutdown of the New York metropolitan area has rendered the options to gain LOSAP points impractical. 

Woodmere Fire Commissioner Ronna Rubenstein noted that volunteer firefighters should be able to maintain their benefits despite the pandemic.

“Our brave and courageous firefighters and EMTs should not lose their hard-earned LOSAP benefits due to the COVID pandemic,” Rubenstein said. “We applaud Senator Kaminsky for working with us to get this bill passed and for his support of the volunteer fire service.”

Kaminsky added that he will continue to advocate for first responders during the pandemic.

“I applaud the Governor for signing this bill into law,” he said. “I will continue to do all I can to support our local volunteer first responders throughout this pandemic and beyond.”