Local firefighters fight for law change to save EMS services

February 08, 2019 07:43 PM

HONEOYE, N.Y. (WHEC) – Volunteer firefighters from across the region are meeting with lawmakers to discuss life-saving services.

On Saturday, volunteer firefighters from Ontario, Monroe, and Onondaga counties, along with members of the Fireman's Association of the State of New York, will meet with elected officials to look over the legislative agenda for 2019.

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"2019 promises to be a busy year for the fire service, with a diverse legislative agenda. The primary focus for New York's volunteers is legislation that would allow fire departments to recover some of the costs associated with providing emergency medical services (EMS)," stated FASNY.

It goes on to explain, EMS calls are rapidly increasing as a percentage of the calls are answered by volunteer fire departments.

Under the current law, fire departments are not allowed to charge for those services. The group is hoping to change the law so they can recover some of the costs necessary for operation.

According to FASNY, "This is in stark contrast to standalone Volunteer Ambulance Corps (VACS) and commercial ambulance services, which are permitted to recover these costs. This legislation would provide much-needed parity among the state's EMS agencies while giving many struggling, rural fire departments a much-needed financial boost."

Other priority FASNY legislation for 2019 includes:

•    Upholstered Furniture Fire Safety Standards – establishes a prohibition on sale and distribution of new upholstered furniture containing certain flame-retardant chemicals. 

•    Amend Penal Code to Add Endangering the Welfare of Occupants, Fire and Emergency Personnel - make it a crime to illegally modify buildings. Illegally modified units often lack proper egress routes and can create extremely dangerous situations for both occupants and firefighters in the event of an emergency. 

•    VFBL/VAWBL Increase – increase partial and permanent disability benefit levels for volunteer first responders based on the cost of living after the effective date of the legislation. 

•    Safety Inspection of Schools – modernize the process of conducting annual fire inspection reports for public and private schools.

•    Amending Presumptive Cancer Coverage – further improve cancer benefits for NY's volunteer firefighters by extending protections to additional types of cancer and clarifying medical testing requirements. 

•    School Credit for Firefighter/EMS Training – allow trainees to receive school credit for firefighter and EMS training in an effort to boost recruitment and retention, especially among young people. 


Stephanie Robusto

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