State Senate passes volunteer firefighter/EMT excused leave billby jmaloni
FASNY calls on Assembly to pass legislation protecting volunteer firefighters and EMTs from termination while responding to declared disasters
The Firemen's Association of the State of New York is pleased to announce the State Senate has overwhelmingly passed a bill that protects the jobs of volunteer firefighters and EMS personnel in times of declared disasters, such as hurricanes and wildfires.
Yesterday, the State Senate passed the bill, S1604, sponsored by Sen. Mark Grisanti, R-Buffalo. An Assembly bill, A04099, sponsored by Assemblyman Fred Thiele, I-Suffolk, is currently awaiting a vote.
"This is common sense legislation, which ensures that volunteer firefighters and EMTs who are called to assist in times of a major emergency have a job to go home to," said FASNY President James Burns. "We want to thank Sen. Grisanti and his colleagues in the Senate for passing this bill that will help protect the men and women who protect this state. Our volunteer firefighters and EMTs should not worry if their 'day job' is safe when called to help their fellow New Yorkers in a declared disaster."
"Protecting the jobs of our emergency first responders who are called to action during states of emergencies is the least we can do for them," Grisanti said. "These types of cataclysmic events require an all-hands-on-deck response in order to protect the safety, health and well-being of all affected communities."
This legislation will ensure that volunteer firefighters and EMS responders will not lose their paying jobs simply because they were late or missed work while performing volunteer duties during a local, state or federal declared emergency.
Teams of volunteer firefighters and EMTs have been called to action during a number of significant, declared emergencies in New York state in recent years, including last year's wildfires on Long Island and for mutual aid deployments during hurricanes Irene and Sandy. In the past two years, 600 of the state's 1,800 volunteer fire departments were deployed to other parts of the state on mutual aid assignments of this nature. The threat of losing a job has a potential chilling effect on these responses at a time when more than 80 percent of New York state's geography is covered by volunteers.
"With the impending hurricane and brush fire seasons upon us, it is more important than ever to ensure our first responders are able to act swiftly without fear of recourse," Burns added.
A link to the legislation awaiting a vote in the Assembly can be found at: http://assembly.state.ny.us/leg/?bn=A04099&term=&Summary=Y&Actions=Y&Votes=Y&Memo=Y&Text=Y