January 24, 2019 Revised
On December 8, 2018, the NYS Fire Service Alliance met in Troy, New York for the purpose of developing the list of legislative priorities for the 2019 legislative session. All the major fire service organizations were represented, and the following is a list of agreed upon major initiatives:
2019 New York State Fire Service Alliance – Issues of United Concern
- Chapter Amendments to GML 205cc, clarifying or modifying as appropriate the verification requirements so that benefits may be extended to intended firefighters with five years of interior service to their respective departments.
- Emergency Medical Cost Recovery, allow fire departments and districts currently unable to recover the cost of providing pre-hospital EMS service from insurers, Medicare and Medicaid in a similar manner as for-profit, not-for-profit and municipal providers are able to recover costs.
- Seek an increase in VFBL/VAWBL benefits for temporarily and totally disabled volunteers and seek parity with worker’s compensation benefits for volunteer firefighters and volunteer ambulance workers in the event they are injured in the line of duty.
- Pursue legislative and administrative actions for building owners who perform modifications or conversions without obtaining the prescribed permits for single or multi-family occupancies which endangers the welfare of the occupants and fire or emergency responders in the pursuit of their duties.
- Establish a prohibition on the sale of upholstered furniture which employs the use of carcinogenic flame-retardant chemicals.
It is hoped and anticipated that the collective effort by the fire service will produce positive results as the legislative process moves forward. These issues will be advanced when the fire service meets for its annual legislative day normally scheduled in May of each year. As of the date of this notice, a date has yet to be set.
Also discussed at the December meeting were the following issues and ideas presented by the fire service organizations which will be pursued individually by the organizations. While these issues are considered important to the individual organizations, it was decided that advancing these proposals by the individual organizations may produce positive outcomes through the legislative process. These additional proposals are:
Additional legislative initiatives endorsed by the members of the Fire Service Alliance:
- Work to prevent the removal of residential sprinkler protection from the building codes adopted by the State.
- Insure increased transparency for the process of conducting annual fire inspections for public and private schools.
- Endorse legislation for the creation of career and technical education opportunities for both fire and EMS disciplines.
- Support the increase the maximum annual contribution under defined contribution LOSAP plans from the current $700 to $2100.
- Support legislation to enable authorities having jurisdiction the option to create, form, consolidate or otherwise merge fire companies or departments on a countywide, regional or cross-jurisdictional level to “right-size” provision of services across a broader tax base, geographical area and or population contingent upon the development and approval of a master plan by the residents affected.
State Budget Proposals endorsed by members of the Fire Service Alliance:
- Advocate for the increase of an annual tax exemption from the current $400 helping incentivize becoming a member of the volunteer fire service.
- Advocate for a sales tax exemption on smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers to incentivize the purchase of these safety related items.
- Monitor the 2019 budget negotiations to ensure adequate and consistent funding levels are maintained for emergency services.
The order in which these proposals are presented are not relative to their importance.