By Alexandra Deryn
ALBANY, N.Y (WENY) — ‘Recruit New York,’ takes place this upcoming weekend. Local fire departments, around the state, are trying to recruit people to volunteer for emergency responder positions.
Assemblyman Phil Palmesano said volunteers are the backbone of rural communities. Unfortunately, New York State is experiencing a shortage of volunteers, currently.
Since the Covid-19 pandemic, at least 30 volunteer ambulance corps have closed. On top of that, nearly 80 percent of all fire protection services, outside of New York City, get a lot of help from volunteer departments. The number of volunteers has dropped significantly.
Palemesano said he fully supports recruiting and retaining volunteers through incentives. Right now, volunteers can get tax breaks, essential insurance coverage, and tuition reimbursement for college. Palmesano added, he is also in favor of adding even more incentives to the list.
“Quite frankly, not only are they protecting our families and our property, they are protecting the property taxpayers because of disservices they were having to provide to our communities…had to be paid services,” he said. “It would cost the property taxpayers of our state another 4.7 billion dollars, annually.”
Palmesano said that fact alone shows how valuable volunteers’ contributions are to the community.