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How New York volunteer fire departments could make $100 million

Posted at 6:12 PM, Apr 14, 2019
and last updated 2019-04-14 18:12:15-04

CAMBRIA, N.Y. — Volunteer fire departments have set out their game plan for legislative changes they want to see in New York.

Some of the main concerns the Firemen's Association of The State of New York has are: fundraising, recruitment, and safety.

A bill was proposed earlier this year that would ban gun raffles in New York. That is a key fundraising technique for many volunteer fire companies throughout the state. Other sources of revenue come from meat raffles, bingo, and community dinners, but local politicians say that may not be enough.

"How do we make sure our volunteer fire services continue to have the resources they need to protect our communities, because as I said, for me, you take some of these volunteer services offline there is no one coming," Robert Ortt, republican state senator of New York's 62nd district, said.

That's why FASNY wants to allow fire companies to bill for emergency medical services.

"The volunteer fire service could reap 100 million dollars in revenue," Robin Schott, chairman of the FASNY legislative committee, said.

According to Schott, around 90 percent of calls are for EMS reasons. If local departments could get that money, FASNY said it could use it to pay for daytime paramedics.

"If we could hire some paramedics during the day, or when there's slow times you can hire someone to man the ambulance and have it ready to go," Schott said.

FASNY said that the average age of volunteers is around 50 years old. That's why it is campaigning to reach out to younger people.

"We're getting a bill together now where high school students can take classes at a local trade school. Our philosophy is if we get them early, get them interested, then we can keep them," Schott said.

"It's probably close to a crisis," he said.

FASNY wants to create legislation prohibiting the sale of certain types of furniture that has flame-retardant chemicals since that can disperse cancer-causing chemicals.

Also, FASNY wants to improve, "cancer extending protections to additional types of cancer," a statement said.

Another piece of legislation would modify building codes, so homeowners couldn't change proper and important egress routes. This would make it safer for firefighters to navigate through a house.