From the office of Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo
Facing a downward trend in members in recent years, volunteer fire departments are getting help from the state to boost their numbers. A bill cosponsored by Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo, and signed into law on November 11th, creates a Task Force on Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment and Retention.
“The vast majority of our region relies on volunteer fire companies to protect their homes and businesses,” said Assemblywoman Lupardo. “These dedicated first responders do an incredible job, but a decrease in membership has made their work more difficult. The COVID pandemic has further complicated efforts to recruit and retain members. I’m glad this issue will finally be getting the attention it deserves.”
“In recent years, volunteer fire departments here in Broome County and across the country have struggled to recruit and keep members,” said Rob Brady, President of the Broome County Firefighters Association. “This new task force will really help identify the challenges departments are facing and ways to sustain membership in the future. We’d like to thank Assemblywoman Lupardo for cosponsoring this legislation and her efforts to get it passed.”
The Volunteer Firefighter Recruitment and Retention Task Force will examine current practices and procedures and issue a report on how to boost numbers for fire companies across the state. Tax incentives and volunteer firefighter benefits will be considered as ways to attract new volunteers. Training methods will also be a focus of the task force, which will look at community colleges, BOCES, and accredited high schools as additional resources for fire training, along with distance learning. The task force will also consider creating a dedicated bureau within the Office of Fire Prevention and Control that would be responsible for recruitment and retention efforts. Recommendations are expected in one year.