The process established by FASNY for its legislative advocacy has resulted in a number of significant accomplishments. The FASNY Legislative Committee will continue to work diligently toward fulfilling its responsibilities and making FASNY’s mission a reality.
FASNY Legislative Accomplishments
- The Gap Coverage Cancer Benefit. The bill provides volunteer firefighters with financial support to cover out-of-pocket expenses and lost wages in the event they are diagnosed with certain cancers that can be linked to their firefighting duties.
- Increased VFBL Benefits for Permanent Total Disability. The amount payable in permanent total disability benefits had not been increased since 1998. This legislation created an automatic cost-of-living adjustment (COLA).
- “Move Over Law” for Volunteer Fire and EMS. Before this latest expansion of the law, drivers were only required to move over for red or amber lights, which are found only on officially designated emergency or hazard vehicles. Under the revised legislation, drivers must now “move over” when approaching an incident that includes personal vehicles owned by volunteer first responders, which typically display blue or green lights.
- 10-Year Tamper-Proof Smoke Detectors. This legislation requires all smoke alarms to be equipped with a 10-year, non-removable battery. Non-working smoke alarms are one of the leading causes of fire-related deaths. This legislation will help to save lives while reducing risk to firefighters.
- Sex Offender Prohibition. This empowers volunteer fire departments with the ability to review applicants for prior convictions as sex offenders and, once these offenders are identified, to provide departments with a method to ban these applicants from joining their ranks.
- Volunteer Job Protection During State Emergencies. The law provides for an unpaid leave of absence for the duration of the response and employers can request notarized statements certifying that their employees are in fact deployed to a declared disaster.
- Ban on Novelty Lighters. This law prohibited manufacturing and sales of cigarette lighters which are designed to look like toys or other items alluring to children.
- Truss Construction Notification. As a result of this law, a notification system was devised to inform firefighters about the presence of truss construction in residential properties, helping to protect them from catastrophic building collapses.
- Protection of 2% Foreign Fire Insurance Tax. The funds derived from this tax levy are distributed by the state to provide financial support for fire companies and chartered benevolent associations.
- Establishment of the Volunteer Firefighter Benefit Law (VFBL). This clarifies and expands the coverage afforded to volunteer firefighters injured in the line of duty. There have been numerous legislative enhancements since that time.
- The “Heart Bill.” This FASNY initiative created a presumption that a volunteer firefighter’s death or disability due to a heart attack is related to his or her volunteer firefighting activity. This law has been extended numerous times since its enactment.
- Length of Service Award Program (LOSAP). This program provides a volunteer firefighter with a monetary benefit based on firefighting activity and number of years in service. There have been numerous legislative enhancements since the establishment of the program.
- Establishment of the Emergency Services Low-Interest Revolving Loan Fund. This loan fund assists fire companies and districts with the purchase of apparatus, equipment and other supplies that are needed to assist and protect volunteer firefighters. Over $36 million has been loaned since the inception of the program.
- Establishment of $50,000 Death Benefit. Under the VFBL, a $50,000 benefit has been established for a volunteer firefighter Line of Duty Death.
- Arson Convictions. Laws have been enacted to provide some assurance that a convicted arsonist is not taken in as a member of a volunteer fire company.
- State Building Code. Leading role of new standard state building code that makes buildings safer for firefighters to enter during an incident.
- Real Property Tax Abatement. Various laws have been enacted that authorize certain counties to provide a real property tax abatement to volunteer firefighters.
- Income Tax Credit. Establishment of volunteer firefighter and EMS preferred personal New York State income tax credit.
- Fire Safe Cigarette Law. New York State, with strong support from FASNY, was the first in the nation to establish the Fire Safe Cigarette Law. The law became effective on June 28, 2004. For more information, visit www.firesafecigarette.com.
All of the laws above and many others have been enacted through the efforts of the FASNY Legislative Committee with the assistance of volunteer firefighters from every area of the state. These efforts will continue in the future.