State Senator Patty Ritchie’s bill to help local volunteer fire department members complete certain training requirements either closer to home or online was approved by the Senate Wednesday and is now headed to the Governor’s desk to be signed into law.
“When departments have to send members and other resources to far away training, they are left with a limited ability to protect their communities,” said Senator Ritchie. “Through this measure, we are making it easier for current members and new volunteers to receive the training they need and as a result, better protect our communities.”
The bipartisan bill (S.7373C), which is sponsored in the Assembly by Assemblywoman Monica Wallace, directs the commissioner of the Division of Homeland Security and Emergency Services to develop a plan that would allow more skills training requirements to be completed at a trainee’s home department or online.
According to the Fireman’s Association of the State of New York (FASNY), there are 100,000 volunteer firefighters in New York. Not only do these volunteers help to protect lives, they also save taxpayer dollars. According to an economic impact report, volunteer firefighters save New York State over $3 billion annually. This is what it would cost to maintain an all-paid fire service in the state and does not take into account the expense of hiring and equipping such a service, nor does it include the inevitable rise in property taxes that would result.