State Assemblyman Phil Goldfeder (D-Ozone Park) is sponsoring legislation that makes it easier to recruit and retain volunteer first responders.
The bill has the support of the Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, the assemblyman said.
“Southern Queens and Rockaway have the highest number of volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance companies in all of New York City and this legislation will put these dedicated volunteers first — as they so often put the safety of our families first,” Goldfeder said. “It is becoming harder and harder to recruit and retain volunteer first responders and creating quality incentives is the right thing to do.”
The bill provides a $400 state income tax credit for volunteer firefighters and ambulance workers who have been active at least four? years; exempts vehicles owned by firefighter first responders used in the performance of duty from motor vehicle registration fees and vehicle use taxes; authorizes local volunteer fire companies and ambulance companies to offset the cost of health insurance for their volunteers through the use of funds collected from a 2 percent fire insurance premium tax from out-of-state insurers; allows fire companies to select up to three candidates to participate in the state’s college tuition assistance program, known as Volunteer Recruitment Service Scholarships; and directs the state Higher Education Services Corp. to create a volunteer recruitment service college loan forgiveness program.
“This bill recognizes the great work of our volunteer first responders, who put their lives on the line every day to protect our communities,” the assemblyman said. “These volunteers are the backbone of our community and they should be recognized as such.
Goldfeder said first responders comprise 72 percent of all firefighters in the country and the services contributed by the volunteers save local governments about $37.2 billion per year.