County supports state-wide task force on volunteer firefighter shortage

Photo by Tom Rivers: Firefighters are on the scene of a fire at about midnight on Jan. 6 in Holley. The 4,000-square-foot building was destroyed that night, displacing 11 residents, including three elementary school children, a high school senior and a baby.

By Tom Rivers, Editor Posted 28 August 2020 at 7:42 am

ALBION – Orleans County legislators are supporting a state effort to create a task force that will look for ways to increase and retain volunteer firefighters.

There is a shortage of volunteer firefighters state-wide and in Orleans County. Kendall is the last fire department to run a volunteer ambulance and also an annual carnival, which is an important fundraiser for the department as well as a community event.

Departments increasingly rely on mutual aid to try to get enough people to respond to fire, motor vehicle accidents and other calls, especially during the daytime when many people are working.

The Firemen’s Association of the State of New York, the Association of Fire Districts of New York, the State Association of Fire Chiefs and New York State Fire Coordinators have been left with the sole responsibility of recruiting volunteer firefighters.

State legislators have introduced Assembly Bill A.9779A and Senate Bill S.7589B to create a volunteer firefighter recruitment and retention task force.

The task force would be inclusive of relevant state agencies, designated associations representing volunteer firefighters, and members of the Legislature to provide the Governor, the Senate and the Assembly with recommendations to assist in the recruitment and retention of volunteer firefighters.

“The Orleans County Legislature acknowledges the important role volunteer firefighters play in keeping our communities in Orleans County safe and shares the concern about the decreasing numbers of those serving as volunteer firefighters,” according to a resolution approved on Wednesday.

The group was unanimous in showing its support for the proposal in the State Legislature.

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