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Legislative Alert: March 3, 2023

New York State AFL-CIO
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President's Message

Protect Firefighting Services  
Part H of S4005/A3005  
Public Protection and General Government Executive Budget Bill

The New York State AFL-CIO is strongly opposed to this proposal which would authorize municipalities to pay volunteer firefighters in New York State. This bill would provide a “nominal fee” to volunteer firefighters, which is undefined and does not outline which volunteer firefighters would be eligible for payment. As a result, volunteer firefighters that have not completed the necessary training, such as interior firefighting, would still be able to access this benefit.

This proposal is intended to improve the recruitment and retention issue of volunteers but the best way to improve fire and emergency services is to transition the volunteer services to paid fire departments staffed by professionally trained, equipped, and experienced firefighters. In fact, this proposal could have the opposite effect and could pave the way for municipalities to reduce or even eliminate their paid firefighters in lieu of paid volunteers. Some communities have already considered this short-sighted option but when it comes to public safety costs, budgetary concerns cannot be the deciding factor of such critical decisions.

The state should instead help communities have adequate fire protection service with fully staffed, trained fire departments that are available 24 hours a day and seven days a week to respond to fires and other emergency situations. This approach will ensure better safety for the public and for the firefighters themselves.

-Mario Cilento, President

Upcoming Meeting

Wednesday, March 8, 2023, 9:00 a.m.

Please join the NYS AFL-CIO, the NYS Building and Construction Trades, the NYS Pipe Trades, and many others in support of an informal meeting about geothermal networks as a job creation and decarbonization proposal.