In 2011, the Firemen's Association of the State of New York unveiled an educational initiative called the FASNY Higher Education Learning Plan.
This college tuition reimbursement program is geared towards recruiting and retaining volunteer firefighters throughout New York, where many volunteer fire departments are experiencing a need to recruit and retain more members.
The deadline to apply for tuition reimbursement for the spring semester of this year is Feb. 1.
More than 100 students enrolled in FASNY HELP for the fall 2011 semester. Brandon Hansen of Wheatfield is one of several students in the region who had applied for tuition reimbursement for the 2011 fall semester. A member of the St. Johnsburg Volunteer Fire Department, Hansen is a student at Niagara County Community College, majoring in business.
He says he joined his local fire company because he was always interested in public service, and that he desires to become a police officer. Hansen is also in the process becoming an EMT and said he was thrilled to receive the tuition reimbursement for his work in the fire service.
Under FASNY HELP, an individual who hasn't already achieved a college degree or has not taken 80 or more college credits can have up to 100 percent of tuition reimbursed in exchange for maintaining good grades and fulfilling service requirements in one of New York's volunteer fire companies. There is no restriction on the type of academic courses that the FASNY HELP student/volunteer firefighter can pursue on a full-time or part-time basis.
Eligible student/volunteers must maintain acceptable volunteer activity and training levels while attending school and fulfill a service requirement after they complete their course of study. They must attend the closest community college or one within a 50-mile radius of their residence.
"Now, more than ever, we need dedicated volunteers serving our communities so that an optimal level of fire and emergency protection can be provided to the citizens of this state," said George Davenport, chairman of FASNY's Recruitment and Retention Committee.
For more information, visit www.fasny.com.