Assemblyman Phil Palmesano is reminding area residents of a chance to learn about an exciting opportunity to give back to their community and protect their neighbors. During the weekend of April 28 and 29, the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York’s (FASNY) will hold its annual recruitment drive for emergency responders, Recruit NY.
The event is one of the local cornerstones of National Volunteer Month. Local volunteer fire departments will provide informational materials explaining the registration process and membership benefits to prospective firefighters and EMTs.
“This is an exciting opportunity for people to learn how to get involved and give back,” said Palmesano. “As I’ve often said, our volunteer emergency workers are the backbone of our rural communities. When we need them most, they always have our backs.”
Palmesano also noted the positive fiscal impact these volunteers have on the Southern Tier and Finger Lakes regions.
“Not only do these brave volunteers protect our lives and our families, they also protect our property tax dollars,” he said. “If the services provided by our emergency volunteers were paid services, it has been estimated they would cost taxpayers more than $3 billion annually in additional property taxes.”
There is a pressing need for new volunteers. “Unfortunately, many of our rural communities are facing a shortage of volunteers, with numbers continuing to decrease every year. Since 2003, the state has lost roughly 20,000 volunteer firefighters,” said Palmesano. “I encourage everyone to please stop by their local department and ask about getting involved with this important cause.”
Palmesano, Assemblyman Friend and state Sen. O’Mara sponsor legislation, the Omnibus Emergency Volunteer Incentive Act, which would:
-Increase the personal income tax credit an additional $400 after four or more years of service;
-Exempt motor vehicles used in the course of volunteer duties from registration fees, and utilize taxes and special fees for volunteer license plates;
-Create a volunteer recruitment service loan forgiveness program;
-Increase the availability of health insurance; and
-Provide safety for employees who are late or miss work because they have responded to an emergency.
Prospective participants can call their local fire department to see if they will be participating. You also can call your local emergency management office or visit www.recruitny.org for more information.
Emergency management office phone numbers in the 132nd Assembly District include:
Chemung – (607) 737-2096
Schuyler – (607) 535-8200
Seneca – (315) 539-1756
Steuben – (607) 664-2910
Yates – (315) 536-3000